The Dangers of UV Skin Damage (and How to Prevent It)

UV damage can permanently compromise the health of your skin.

Most of us love basking in the sun on a warm, pleasant summer day, but despite all the benefits it brings us, the sun can also be harmful. The sun emits a broad spectrum of radiation, largely in the form of visible light and invisible ultraviolent (UV) radiation.

If you aren’t careful, this UV radiation could seriously jeopardize your skin health—or even threaten your life.

How UV Radiation Damages Skin

UV radiation is electromagnetic radiation emitted not only by the sun, but also tanning beds, welding torches, and other man-made sources of light and heat. These waves of radiation contain high levels of energy, which vary based on the type of UV ray; for example, high-intensity UV rays, called ionizing radiation, are even more powerful, and named for their molecular effect.

With enough energy, UV radiation can “ionize” an atom or molecule by forcefully knocking away an electron. This changes the composition of the atom or molecule.

If UV radiation only altered one atom of your body, you’d never notice a difference, but as the damage begins to accumulate, you’ll see a series of negative consequences increasing in severity.

For example, damage to your cellular DNA can