Sunshine And Happiness: Understanding The UV Index

Sunshine is something that can keep us happy and healthy, but if you care about your skin, you probably also know that the sun can have an adverse effect on your body as well. Most people have heard of the UV index, and have a vague understanding that UV rays are what damage your skin and cause cancer in some people. However, by fully understanding how the UV index works, you can have a better understanding of the sun and consequently begin protecting your skin the best way possible.

UV rays, or, to be more technical, ultraviolet rays, damage our skin and eyes, so we are cautioned to wear protective clothing, use sunscreen or products that contain sunscreen, and buy sunglasses in order to stay safe during both the summer and winter months. For the last few decades, the UV index has been included in weather reports in order to help viewers gage the strength of the ultraviolet rays coming from the sun on any given day.

First of all, realize that the readings are taken at noon, so the numbers you are seeing are at their peak. In other words, the sun's rays aren't always as harmful as what you see on television weather reports. That's not to say you shouldn't wear sunscreen at all times, but you shouldn't worry about the sun so much as to not go outside at all. The sun can be very healthy for us as well.

The UV index reads the sun's effect on a numerical scale, with zero being the lowest. Most days, the UV index numbers will be between zero and ten. A reading higher than ten is more dangerous, especially for people with fair skin, but to be safe, use sunscreen every time you go outside, no matter what the reading may be. Zero to two is a "minimal" UV index rating, a three or four means the danger is "low", 5 or 6 indicates a "moderate" reading, seven to ten is a "high" danger, and above ten is "very high." Consider staying indoors if the reading reaches above ten.

The UV index is useful because it measures not only the heat from the sun, but also the ozone, clouds, haze, and pollution in a specific area on a specific day. All of these things block some of the dangerous rays, so a UV index measures more than simply how sunny it is outside. Remember, be careful in the sun and protect your skin, but be sure you are getting fresh sunshine on a daily basis as well.

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