Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is a leading cause of skin cancer. It can also prematurely age and damage the skin. The use of sun protection is therefore imperative, regardless of your age.
A common misunderstanding is that skin cancer only occurs to people over the age of 40. Tanning bed use and regular exposure to sunlight to tan has led to an increase in young people developing skin cancers. Bronzing make-up and spray-on tans are a far better approach to achieving a tan than allowing your skin to bake in the sun.
Ultraviolet light in sunlight is damaging to skin cells. To prevent harm and injury, the skin is stimulated by the ultraviolet light to produce an increased amount of melanin. Melanin is the skin’s natural sunscreen. It is the target molecule that preferentially absorbs the radiation’s energy in the skin. It is important to remember that the tan caused by an increase in melanin comes at a price. This price is trauma to healthy skin cells by UV radiation.
The clinically important types of UV from the sun are UV-A and UV-B radiation. Ultraviolet-A radiation is of lower energy, but penetrates the skin more deeply than ultraviolet-B radiation. It may cause damage to both collagen and elastin in the dermis. Thus, UV-A is the culprit for causing mottled skin pigmentation, wrinkling and other signs of chronic sun damage. There is much less UV-B in sunlight than UV-A, but UV-B radiation is much more potent. It is the wavelength most responsible for causing a sunburn. Both wavelengths are recognised to cause skin cancer.
Using Sun Screen
Most modern sunscreens are designed to either absorb or reflect UV-A and UV-B radiation away from the skin. Sunscreen ingredients are chemical or physical blockers or a combination of both. They are graded according to SPF or sun protection factor. The higher the SPF means the better protection for your skin. An ultraviolet-A protection factor may also be used.
Sunscreens are much more user-friendly now. They come in multiple forms including; clear gels or sprays and creams which may be tinted or untinted. Along with regular sunscreens, lip balms, cosmetics and moisturisers with SPF factors are also available. These are highly recommended to provide protection from the sun on all areas of your skin.
If you have any questions or concerns about sun protection or sun damaged skin, contact our clinic for an appointment to see a dermatologist. Contact us today.