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Sunlight and Your Skin – The Good and the Bad and the Ugly Truth
If there’s ever an example of a tumultuous relationship then it is definitely the relationship that exists been the Sun and the people on Earth. Human life, much like planet life, revolves around the sun. It’s the source of growth for almost everything – however, where there are positives to this connection, there exist an equal number of negatives associated with sunlight. Today we’re discussing sunlight with respect to the largest organ of the human body – the skin.
Benefits of Sun Exposure
Sunlight is actually quite beneficial for us and our wellbeing.
Sunlight is known to help in the production of Vitamin D, a nutrient essential for our bone health which aids the body in absorbing the mineral Calcium.
Bright and sunny days are known to instantly boost our energy and elevate our moods because it induces the production of the hormone Seratonin in the body, which is essentially the happy hormone. Haven’t you ever heard that people is areas with prolonged periods of darkness such as the Scandinavian countries are more prone to conditions such as depression? This is in fact a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD, a form of depression that is triggered due to a significant lack of sunlight. That’s not all though. Sunlight is also known to positively affect and influence our sleeping patterns.
However, there are more than a few adverse effects of sunlight, which are particularly damaging for our skin. Let’s talk more about that.
Sunlight Induced Skin Damage
The amount of damage sunlight causes to your skin depends on a number of different factors. They include the amount of sun exposure, the time duration you spend outside in the sun, your age, sex, skin’s photosensitivity, and the presence or absence of certain physical characteristics which includes your skin tone.
The amount of sun exposure depends on and varies considerably from location to location. The Sun emits UV or ultraviolet rays of varying wavelengths. The Earth’s Ozone layer forms a protective covering over the Earth’s surface, preventing the more harmful rays from penetrating and reaching us humans. However, in various parts of the Northern world, the Ozone layer is damaged due to variety of reasons, leading to a harsher sun. As such, the people in those parts of the world are more susceptible to sun induced skin damage than others. People with fairer skin, which lack Melanin are also known to be at a greater risk of sun damage, as are females above the age of 40.
Some of the most common negative effects of over-exposure of the sun include the following:
The most common of all sun-induced skin damages is sunburn. Caused by the over-exposure to the harsh sun rays, Sunburn appears as blotchy red spots on the skin which are painful, sore and blistering. The effect of sunburn can last anywhere between a few hours to a few days. Multiple sunburns can damage the skin’s elasticity.
Photodermatosis, or Polymorphous Light Eruptions is a sun allergy that is caused by the over exposure of sensitive skin to the Ultraviolet rays of the sun. Generally PLE presents itself with delayed symptoms that can appear anywhere on the skin a minimum of 24 hours after the skin has been exposed to the sun. Some of the most common characteristics of sun allergy include skin redness with a bumpy light rash, large pustules or blisters that have the capacity to hemorrhage as well as intensified itching or irritation in the affected areas.
Premature Signs of Aging
Prolonged exposure to the sun, and frequent sunburns tend to accelerate the natural aging process of the skin. Continuous sunlight causes irreparable and irreversible damage to the collagen of the skin which causes the skin to lose its elasticity which results in increased fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots to appear on the stretched, leathery and loose skin surface.
Last but by no means least, over exposure to the harsh UV rays of the sun can cause significant damage to the skin cell’s DNA. This alteration of the genetic material of the cells causes the cells to grow in an abnormal pattern and manner. This abnormal growth called a tumor or lesion might be completely harmless or benign, or it may be spreading or malignant i.e. cancerous.
A lesion that often starts forms harmlessly but has the potential to convert into a cancerous growth in the future is Acnitic Keratoses which presents itself as scaly patches of the skin that are either pink or brown in color. They are commonly found on the knees, neck, or back of hands.
The other types of skin cancers caused by prolonged sun exposure over the years include Basal cell skin cancer which are characterized by shiny small lumps that can become crusty and Melanoma which is a cancerous growth that begins due to the alteration in appearance of an existing freckle or mole present on the body.
We all evolve as we age, and there are some changes that are considered a natural part of our progression. However, over exposure to the sun can expedite the undesirable changes causing us to see the characteristics of age in our skin well before our time. While it’s next to impossible to prevent complete exposure to the sun, there are more than a few steps that we can take to not only protect our skin from damage, but also delay or even completely prevent our skin from suffering the fate of sun-damage.
The best such step is the regular daily use of Refreshen Microdermabrasion Cream, a home-based microdermabrasion treatment that not only removes the dead skin cells by gently exfoliating the skin with minute microcrystals, but also promotes cell regeneration and growth to leave behind supple and refreshed younger looking skin.