What causes sunburn and skin damage?
Ultra-violet (UV) rays are emitted from the sun and travel to the earth in wavelengths. The UV wavelengths are very small, but they contain high levels of energy that penetrate human flesh, changing the structure of the skin cells. Some of these skin cells are assigned the job of producing melanin, which creates a brown coloring. This is how the tanning process is activated. Melanin provides varying degrees of natural protection from sun damage. Individuals with darker skin have more melanin than those with fair skin, therefore more natural protection.
UV rays are classified into 3 regions according to the frequency of their wavelengths. The wavelengths are so small they are measured in nanometers (nano=one billionth of a meter). Infrared radiation (760 - 3000 nm) can also be harmful to the skin, resulting in squamous/ basal cell carcinoma and direct skin-aging changes.
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