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Sunlight is the main source of ultraviolet radiation (UV) known to damage the skin and cause other health effects. The amount of solar UV exposure depends on the strength of the light, length of exposure, and the degree of sun protection an individual takes. Exposure to UV can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes.

There are a few different harmful outcomes to be aware of when spending time outdoors, including:

Sunburn – The most common health effect related to the sun, sunburns are caused by overexposure to UV rays. A sunburn causes the skin to be red, and can be painful or hot to the touch. A sunburn causes damage to the skin cells. The full effects of a sunburn may not appear for 24 hours or longer. In more severe sunburns, the skin may blister and the person may experience flu-like symptoms (fever, chills and headache).

Repeated sunburns raise the risk of developing skin cancer later in life. In fact, having more than five sunburns more than doubles someone’s risk of melanoma.

Eye Damage – Unprotected exposure to UV rays can cause damage to the retina (which makes visual images). UV light can also be a factor in the development of cataracts later in life.

Sun Poisoning – A more severe reaction from being out in the sun or extreme heat for too long. Symptoms may include fever, chills, nausea, heat rash, headache, and extreme thirst (due to dehydration).

Skin Cancer – The worst consequence of long-term exposure to the sun, or numerous bad sunburns, can be skin cancer. There are three different types of skin cancer, which are diagnosed by specialized medical professionals.

While the sun can produce harmful effects, staying inside isn’t the solution. Being outdoors has many benefits, both physical and mental. Children should be encouraged to play outside, following sun safety measures to stay healthy.

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