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Suncare Sundays: UV Index Explained

Do you know what your Ultraviolet Index is today?

Ultraviolet index (UV index) is a measure of the strength of the sun’s harmful rays at a particular place and time.  The higher the number, the greater the chance of sun damage.

UV Index was developed by Canadian scientists in 1992 and standardized by the UN’s World Health Organization and World Meteorological Organization in 1994.  UV levels are affected by time of day, time of year, cloud cover, altitude, location and surrounding surfaces.

At very high UV index levels, skin can burn in as little as 15 minutes. 

    • UV is not hot. It can’t be felt and isn’t connected to temperature.
    • UV index is highest during the middle of the day. Plan for safe sun protection accordingly
    • You can still burn and experience UV damage on cool, cloudy days

75% of US cities see 100+ days of very high UV Index each year

Check the UV Index in your area daily and plan your sun safety before going outside.

To learn more about Ultraviolet Index and myths related to Ultraviolet exposure, see the infographic below.

UV Index

We encourage all healthcare practitioners to download, print and display this infographic in waiting areas and exam rooms, and share with patients.

For additional resources and products that can help you promote sun-safe behavior in your patients, visit

Additional resources

You can find UV Index forecasts by ZIP Code at EPA’s SunWise website: Also, you can sign up to receive e-mails with your area’s Ultraviolet Index forecast and the Ultraviolet Alert.

Did you enjoy this article? Check out our Suncare Sundays series below and visit our OTC Resource Center.

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