The Sun and Your Skin

The Sun and Your Skin


In this lesson, you will review what you already know about the impact sun exposure has on human skin and what people typically do to protect themselves, if anything. Using a number of online resources, you will then learn how to care for your skin, the damaging effects of sunburns and tanning, and how sunscreens provide protection from the sun's harmful UV rays.


Depending on the group you were assigned, use the resources below to learn more about skin, suntanning, and sunburns. You can use the You and Your Skin student sheet to record your answers to the questions.

Resource #1

Groups assigned to Resource #1 should go to the You and Your Skin resource. Visit the four main sections of the resource by clicking on each of the four quadrants on the inner circle, including: Function, Anatomy, Proection, and Care.

When you click on one of the main sections, you'll be taken to an enlarged view of that section, which contains several subsections represented by the highlighted ring around the circle. Roll your mouse over the ring to see the subsections. To go to one of the subsections, simply click on it. To move from one of the main sections to another, simply click on one of the red arrows found by the ring.

For more information on the skin, click on the Learn More section. If you choose, you can do the Skin Assessment to test your skin knowledge.

As you discuss and prepare your presentations based on this material, be prepared to answer these questions:

  • What functions does your skin perform?
  • What is melanin? What does it determine?
  • Which part of your skin contains sweat glands?
  • What is the best way to treat cuts?
  • Is it better to wash your face with your hands or a towel? Why?
  • What are some ways to keep you skin healthy?

Resource #2

Groups assigned to Resource #2 need to read and discuss The Tanning Taboo article on the Teens Health website.

As you prepare your presentations based on the content of this article, be prepared to answer these questions:

  • Why do you think people like having a tan?
  • How do UVA and UVB radiation differ? How do they affect the skin?
  • What happens to the skin as you tan?
  • How many skin types are there? What is your skin type?
  • What are some symptoms of skin damage from UV radiation? What can happen in severe cases?
  • Do young people have to worry about skin cancer? Why or why not?
  • What suggestions are given to help protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays?
  • What does SPF stand for? What’s important to know about it?
  • Are sunlamps and tanning beds safe? Why or why not?
  • How do self-tanning and airbrush tanning methods affect your skin?
  • Would you ever consider using these methods? Why or why not?

Resource #3

Groups assigned to Resource #3 are responsible for the content in the Introduction to Sunlight and Skin Damage article on the Merck website. (Do not read “Actinic Keratoses: Precancerous Growths” at the bottom of the page.)

As you prepare your presentations based on this material, you will need to answer these questions:

  • How can small amounts of UV light help the body?
  • In what ways do large amounts damage the body?
  • Which type of UV light is responsible for damage due to tanning, burning, and skin cancer?
  • Why is the amount of UV light reaching the earth’s surface increasing?
  • What time of day is it the most intense?
  • Do people with high melanin levels need to worry about sun exposure? Why or why not?
  • What types of skin cancer can one get from excessive sun exposure?

Resource #4

Groups assigned to Resource #4 need to read, discuss, and develop a presentation based on the Sunburn article from the same site. (Do not read “Are Tans Healthy?” at the bottom of the page.)

As you develop your presentations, be prepared to answer these questions:

  • What are the symptoms of mild-to-severe sunburn?
  • When do symptoms typically appear?
  • What’s the best way to protect yourself from the sun?
  • What are some good and bad filters (or circumstances) for UV light?
  • What are sunscreens?
  • How do sunblocks differ from sunscreens?
  • Which SPF levels provide maximum protection from sun damage?
  • What treatments help heal sunburned skin?

Knowledge Check

Write a persuasive letter to a friend offering advice either for or against the use of (a) sunscreens or (b) tanning salons.

Using what you've learned about your skin and how it can protect you from the harmful effects of the sun, answer the questions on the Sun & Skin Question and Response student sheet.

This esheet is a part of the Sun & Skin lesson.

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