When you’re outside in the sun for too long without wearing sunscreen, your skin can get burned! These burns often hurt a lot, and the damage they cause to your skin now can cause you to get sick when you’re older, so it’s important to be careful and do your best to avoid sunburns!
The light from the sun helps us with lots of things and is very important to life on Earth, but it unfortunately also contains some harmful rays you can’t see, called “ultraviolet” or “UV” rays.
If you spend time outside without sunscreen on the exposed parts of your skin, the UV rays can damage your skin cells, which are the little building blocks that make up your skin. Your skin then responds to this damage with the redness of a sunburn, which is caused by extra blood being sent to the hurt area to assist with healing. Most doctors will agree that even just the darker color of a suntan can be as damaging as a burn, because a tan is also caused by exposure to harmful UV rays.
Luckily, there are good ways to avoid sunburns and skin damage, including applying sunscreen, covering up with a t-shirt, and spending some time in the shade!