What Is The UV Index?

Alert for dangerous values of UV index during the summerThe term “UV Index” is often referenced on the morning news and during weather reports, but are you fully aware of what the UV Index is?

UV Index, or the Ultraviolet Index, is a measure of the ultraviolet radiation emitted by the sun. These UV rays are known for causing sun damage, sun burn, and even skin cancer. “When we rate sunscreens,  we are really looking at how well or effective they are at blocking or deflecting UV rays from the skin,” says Dr. Adam Mamelak, a board certified Dermatologist and skin cancer specialist at Sanova Dermatology in Austin, Texas. The index is used to signify how severe these rays are at a given day or time. “It really allows patients to make good decision and the best choices for protecting themselves when spending time outside or during leisure activities.

The UV Index

Low (0-2) – This level of the index is a day where there is no strong concern about sunburn. It is still important to apply sunscreen regularly, as prolonged interaction with the sun, even on lower indexing days, can still lead to sunburn and an increased risk of skin cancer.

Moderate (3-5) – If you are outside, it is best to seek shade, wear UPF clothing, and reapply sunscreen often.

High (6-7) – High index days warrant more caution when going outdoors. Try staying indoors during peak times if possible (between 10 AM and 4 PM).

Very High (8-10) – Days where the UV Index is very high, the opportunity to burn is exceptionally high. If outdoors, it is best to seek shade and minimize time outdoors during peak times.

Extreme (11+) – On these days, it is best to avoid prolonged periods outside, if possible. Skin that is left unprotected could burn within minutes and sun damage could be on the severe side.

Even on the lowest indexing days, it is possible to experience a sunburn if outdoors for prolonged periods of time. It is also possible to receive magnified exposures from bright pavement, snow, and water. Or as Dr. Mamelak says, “there are no bad days to protect your skin.”

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If you have questions about sun damage, and the best ways to protect and care for your skin, please contact us today.

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