Understanding the Ultraviolet Index with Dr Rajkomar

We sat down with Dr Rajkomar, one of our highly experienced Consultant Dermatologists, to talk all things Ultraviolet (UV) and trying to understanding the UV Index. 

Ultraviolet radiation comes to earth from the sun. The ozone layer protects those of us on the ground from most of it however some does reach the surface. 

So how can you keep yourself safe? 

What is the UV Index? 

Dr Rajkomar begins: “The UV Index (UVI) measures the levels of UV radiation present. The values of this index range from 0 to 11 plus. 

“A higher UVI indicates a greater risk for the skin and eyes when exposed to these levels of radiation. At a higher UVI, it takes less time for damage to occur due to the intensity of the radiation.”

UV Index: 0-2

When the UVI is 0-2 you can enjoy time outside without any worries. Under normal circumstances, no protective measures are required but sunscreen should always be worn. 

UV Index: 3-5

This UVI indicates a moderate risk of harm from the radiation levels and unprotected sun exposure. During these levels, it’s important to stay in the shade once midday is approaching, as this is approaching the time of day when the sun is the strongest. 

If you’re outdoors beyond the shade during this UVI, it’s important to wear clothing that covers your vulnerable areas, such as your back, head, and shoulders, and you should wear a hat along with UV resistant sunglasses. And naturally, sun cream should be worn. 

UV Index: 6-7

At this UVI level, individuals are at high risk of harm from exposed sun and UV rays. It is essential that the skin and eyes are protected during this level of intensity. During this level of UVI, time in the sun should be limited during the hours between 10-4, seeking out shade and covered areas where possible. 

If you’re outdoors beyond the shade during this UVI, it’s important to wear clothing that covers your vulnerable areas such as your back, head, shoulders, and to wear a hat along with UV resistant sunglasses. Sun cream should also be on hand to regularly apply. 

UV Index: 8-10

This UVI level indicates a very high risk of harm from direct sunlight exposure. As a result, fair skinned individuals can burn their skin with just 10 minutes exposure, so it’s best to avoid the sun from 10am until 2pm to avoid skin damage. It’s also critical to apply sunscreen during this UVI level. 

UV Index: 11+

This UVI level indicates an extremely high risk of sun damage to your skin and eyes if exposed to the sun without protection. Due to the intensity of this UVI, unprotected skin and eyes can burn in minutes which is why UV protected sunglasses are essential during this UVI level. 

During this UV Index rating, it’s best to avoid sun exposure between 10am and 4pm for maximum protection. 

Sun protection is needed at all times. UV index can be checked in advance from most weather app or websites and hence appropriate precautions should be taken. 

Can everyone use the UVI? 

Dr Rajkomar continued: “Absolutely! The UVI scale should be used in conjunction with temperature scales to guide individuals in their behaviour and clothing choices. The scale works for all skin types, but those with fairer skin should always be much more cautious.”

Are there any drawbacks to the UVI?

Dr Rajkomar concluded: “You should never solely rely on the UVI. The index should be used in conjunction with the other weather factors, including temperature and wind as these will have an effect on the likelihood of sun damage. 

“UVI cannot be viewed as an exclusive indicator, rather as a guide in conjunction with other indicators.”

To book a Dermatologist appointment with Dr Rajkomar, please call us on 0330 058 44 55 or complete the booking form on our website

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