I love experiencing the sun and all the activities surrounding its presence such as boating, swimming, hiking, and cycling. My mood is immediately elevated witnessing its warm glow. Yes there are many benefits to the sun’s rays such as stimulating the production of Vitamin D which is essential in calcium and bone metabolism as well as supporting the immune system. It chases away the blues of seasonal affective disorder and is essential for life. However there is a risk benefit ratio to being exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Following is a list of downsides to sun exposure.
1. The ultraviolet rays of the sun damages the DNA in our skin cells which can result in malignant transformation of cells such as basal, squamous, or melanoma. The latter can be lethal. Therefore minimizing the harmful UVB rays can reduce the risk of developing skin cancer. Sun screen is not a one -time application for a whole day of exposure. It needs to be repeated at least every two hours or more often depending on water or perspiration which can reduce the effectiveness of the prevention. Sun damage is additive over a life time but taking breaks from the harmful rays can allow the tissue to heal and repair some of the mild DNA damage. Therefore year- long tanning such as tanning beds should be discouraged.
2. Exposure of both UVA and UVB rays will damage the elastin fibers in the skin permanently resulting in loose less compliant skin. This will result in the skin of the face, arms, breast, abdomen, thighs, and knees to hang and appear loose. No exercise will tone the damaged skin. Therefore protect your largest organ system, the skin, by shielding the sun with appropriate hats, clothing, and sun screen.
3. Splotchy color changes to the skin. With increased sun exposure the skin will upregulate melanin production resulting in pigmentation changes that are less than attractive and are extremely difficult to reverse.
4. Thinning of the dermis which can result in the appearance of capillaries giving a red appearance around the nose and cheeks.
Everyone wants to have that sun kissed glow to the skin. I wish I had a dollar for every time a women says tan fat looks better than pale fat. Just remember the list above and understand a large sun exposure that creates a nice tan for around a week or so causes a lifetime of damage that can result in potential skin cancer and many vexing maladies of the skin giving a marked aged appearance over time.
Fortunately if you have experienced the above sun damage we can help. A combination of good home skin care with Skin Medica products, chemical peels to remove damaged skin and remove pigmentation changes, and microneedling which can result in collagen induction and improved dermal thickness and skin tone. More educational BLOGS are available on our website.