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Dread the Red

May 26, 2016, 13:01 PM
sunscreenThe sweat beads on your overheating brow, leeching into your eyebrows; one droplet glides past your swiping fingers and slips quickly into your eye, stinging. One pesky sweat droplet cascades down your cheek, flushed pink by the heat, making its way down to the southernmost point of your chin before it dribbles off and soaks into your already sweat-drenched tank top.

Infrared radiation, or heat, which is a type of energy that the sun sends toward us and is the reason your body is sweating (a natural cooling agent). Accompanying that energy is visible light, what our eyes can see, and ultraviolet (UV) light, which is not visible to our eyes, but it’s there and it’s what is turning your skin red!

All of those energies are types of electromagnetic waves, but they all have different levels of energy, making some more dangerous than others.

The amount of space between the highs and lows of the waves determines the amount of energy; infrared waves are longer with more space between the highs and lows, causing them to have less energy. UV waves have much less space between the highs and lows of its waves, making it have more energy than visible light and infrared radiation; that amount of energy is dangerous and can hurt us.

Over time, UV light’s contact with our skin can hurt and even kill our skin cells. Our bodies’ reaction is for the skin to become red, which can hurt…a LOT! Although this light originates from the sun, it has the ability to reflect or bounce off of other surfaces, including water, snow, concrete, etc. These powerful rays can even project through clouds, making it possible to get burned on overcast days that you rarely or never even see the sun!

While there is no easy answer on how to combat infrared waves that make the summer heat, you can protect your skin from the invisible UV rays.
Wear breathable (so you don’t get overheated from those infrared waves), lightweight, full-coverage clothing that will help block UV rays.
Use sunscreen or sunblock; research which is the better choice for you.
Don a hat and sunglasses – aside from looking great, these items will help keep the sun’s harmful rays from reaching your sensitive skin and eyes!
Sit in the shade – whether it’s a tree, umbrella, or something else, shade offers a cool reprieve from the hot sun and protection from the powerful and often damaging UV rays.

This is all fine and dandy, but the most important reason to use sun safety and protection measures is to help prevent melanoma.

Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Cancerous growths are developed when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells trigger mutations, or genetic defects, that lead to skin cells multiplying rapidly and forming malignant tumors, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. These cancerous growths are typically caused by UV radiation. 

Wait, the sun produces UV rays – which can be mostly blocked, using the above methods – that can cause CANCER? You’ve got it right. Knowing your skin well, checking it often, and using sun safety and protection are all ways you can prevent melanoma.

Do summer the smart way – use sun protection every time you go outside!