Sun exposure is a major cause of skin damage. In the short term you may like the effects of the sun on your skin. However, the more exposures, the more long term damages your skin will sustain. Some skin types get damaged easier than others (thin vs thick skin, fair vs darker skin).
Either way in the long run with two much exposure, you can have premature aging and it pre disposes to skin cancer. Sun exposure accelerates skin changes during normal aging process. Overtime, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light damages the fiber in the skin called elastin. When these fibers break down, the skin begins to sag, stretch and lose its ability to go back into place after stretching.
There is good effects from controlled doses of sun exposure. The skin uses sunlight to help manufacture vitamin D. The major role of vitamin D is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, which forms and maintains strong bones. It is used alone or together with calcium to improve bone health. Vitamin D may also protects against osteoporosis, high blood pressure, cancer and other diseases.
Under the epidermal layer, there are cells that contain melanin, called melanocytes that protect skin from the sun’s UV rays causing your skin to age prematurely (wrinkles, laxity and other signs of premature aging).
When UV rays reach your skin, they interact with the melanocytes that contain melanin. Melanin is your first line of protection and absorbs UV rays in order to shield your skin against sun damages; this is what gives skin a tan. When the UV rays you are exposed to exceed the protection provided by melanin you get sunburn, therefore skin damage.
Frequent and prolonged exposure to UV rays over the years can be a cause of skin cancer. Examine your skin regularly for suspicious skin changes, new moles, changes in existing mole, skin discoloration or chronic flaking. UV rays are more powerful during the summer months. They are stronger in high altitude areas and worse the closer you get to the equator.
Repeated overexposure to UV rays can leads to various forms of skin damage or changes indicating damages including but not limited to:
Dry and rough skin
Reduction and weakening of the connective tissue
Thinning of the skin
Fine red blood vessels appearing on the cheeks, nose and ears
Age spots – which tend to be darker than the usual freckle and do not fade in winter. They are more common in older people but they also appear on the skin of younger adults and even children who spend too much time in the sun without protection.
Uneven pigmentation: melanin makes your skin look darker and with age the sun causes an uneven increase in melanin production which created areas of irregular pigmentation.
Even if your tanning days are over, you may notice that the older you get, the more brown marks and darker patches you have on your skin. Those are the effects of your prior sun exposures. It is important to keep an eye on those changes. The sun’s damages to your skin may appear up to 20 to 30 years after sun damage occurs. It is not uncommon to see sign of early aging (brown spot, dryness, wrinkles) in your 40’s even if you used sunscreen in recent years.
Sun causes numerous type of skin cancers: melanoma, cataracts…
The truth about sunscreen and SPF – Sun Protective Factor (SPF) measures a sunscreen’s ability to delay (not prevent) sunburn, which is an indication of injury to the living cells beneath the skin’s surface. The higher SPF you use, the better it is for your skin. SPF 30 or higher is recommended for daily use, and SPF 50 for more intense sun exposure for both adults and children.
The best sunscreens, labeled “board spectrum” protest again the UVA and UVB. The sunlight that reaches us is made up of two types of harmful rays: long wave ultraviolet A (UVA) and short wave ultraviolet B (UVB). Basically, UVA rays can age us and UVB rays can burn us. Make sure you re-apply often your sunscreen, the more the better.
Break the UV Ray cycle:
Use sunscreen (everyday at least SPF 15 but preferably SPF 30, choose products that provide “broad spectrum”. Reapply sunscreen every two hours.
Cover up sensitive areas
Limit sun exposure between the hours of 10am to 2pm.
The good thing is that sun damages are preventable. Avoid excessive sun exposure and protect your skin that will postpone aging for years to come. Make sure you use sunscreen everyday. Thankfully most of the foundations make already contain SPF in most of the skincare lines.
How often do you wear sunscreen?
76% said every day, 22% said only at the beach and 2% never. What’s about you?