Sunburn/Sun Damage

What is Sunburn/Sun Damage?

Sunburn is burn to living tissue. Sun damage can include sunburn and any other form of damage to the skin caused by the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Symptoms of sunburn include red skin which is hot to the touch, fatigue, and occasionally dizziness. It is believed to be the primary cause of skin cancer. Sunscreen offers protection, but the best protection is clothing, hats, etc.

Do Clouds Reduce UV Radiation?

Clouds can reduce UV radiation, but this can be deceiving. Clouds nearby the sun can reflect UV radiation, increasing the amount of radiation hitting the earth and its inhabitants.

Tanning Beds/Booths and UV Radiation

Tanning beds and tanning booths emit UV radiation very similar to the sun's UV radiation. The risks in tanning for cosmetic reasons in a tanning bed or booth are similar to the risks involved in exposure to the sun's UV radiation.

More About Sunburn/Sun Damage

Ozone Layer

The ozone layer protects us from UV radiation. Some scientists believe that the ozone layer is thinning. This means that we are receiving more of the sun's harmful radiation here on earth, putting us at greater risk for sun damage to our skin.


The intensity of the sun increases at higher altitudes. It is important to be cautious if you are in the mountains or in a location that is higher in altitude than what you are used to. You will likely burn more easily than you would at a lower altitude. Use sun protection and protective clothing anytime you are at risk for sunburn.

Land Formations

Formations of the land can affect the amount of sun exposure you are receiving. Snow, water, sand and other features can reflect the sun, causing the UV rays to hit more intensely.


The sun's rays are more intense near the equator. Therefore, you are more at risk for sun damage when you are in these areas. Native inhabitants of these areas are generally darker-skinned and therefore better protected from the UV rays. Dark-skinned people, however, are still at risk for sun damage.