Basking under the sun for too long can be harmful—that much we already know. However, a new study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology shows that even kids as young as age 12 or 13 may be just as affected by the sun’s rays. Using a special kind of photography, researchers were able to reveal signs of sun damage not visible to the naked eye.

In the study, researchers gathered 585 boys and girls together—all of whom were 12 or 13 years old at the start of the study. They were photographed with their eyes closed with neither sunscreen nor makeup on. Using standard, cross-polarized, and ultraviolet (UV) photography, researchers discovered signs of sun damage. UV photography, in particular, brought out previously unseen dark spots caused by the sun’s rays.

The children also underwent a full body scan in which features like their hair color and eye color were taken note of. According to research, people who had fairer skin, blue eyes, and even red hair had a higher risk for melanoma disease.

The results appeared to be in line with what researchers expected. Those who were at high risk for melanoma had more drastic results from the UV photography as well. Researchers hope that their study can at least emphasize the importance of putting on sunscreen. Just because we can’t see any signs of sun damage, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

(Photo by niclindh via Flickr Creative Commons)

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