The Sun and Your Skin
It is summer time and one of the favorite leisure activities of most people is to spend a day at the beach. There is no doubt that being outside while enjoying the warm rays of the sun can improve people' mood and decrease stress levels. However, it is also very important to acknowledge the fact that overexposure to the sun can cause significant long-term damages to our skin. In fact, the sun may be responsible for up to 90% of the causes of pre-mature aging as well as increase the risk of skin cancer.
why overexposure to the sun is dangerous?
One of the main components of sunlight includes ultraviolet light (UV) which are composed of UVA and UVB rays. UVA can penetrate deep into the skin and cause direct skin cells injuries and damage the cells' DNA as well as lead to the breaking down of collagen. UVB has a shorter wavelength, though it is more intense than UVA, and may cause skin sunburns.
Ultimately, overexposure to the sun may lead to the following:
- Premature aging of the skin - Overexposure may cause the skin to gradually lose moisture resulting in a saggy skin as well as the development of wrinkles, and dark spots.
- Decrease in Collagen levels - Collagen is a structural protein that gives the skin its strength and shape. Furthermore, as our body ages, its ability to produce collagen reduces resulting in the development of wrinkles. Moreover, exposure to UV rays might lead to the formation of free radicals which may lower the collagen level in the body (for more on Collagen please refer to the blog: "Collagen - The building blocks of a healthy skin").
- Skin cancer - Overexposure to UV light may lead to the creation of moles and freckles on the skin. Over time these may lead to the development of different types of skin cancer as well as melanoma.
What can you do to protect yourself from the sun?
Protecting yourself from overexposure to the sun is fairly simple and only requires the adoption of new habits that are straightforward. It includes the following:
- Apply sunscreen - Applying sunscreen before leaving the house should become a regular day-to-day routine the same as brushing your teeth. It is recommended to apply the sunscreen on all the exposed parts of the skin approximately 20-30 minutes prior to exiting the house and seek to reapply it every two hours, if outside, especially after swimming or sweating. Furthermore, seek to use a sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 and one that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Finally, please note that it is also important to apply sunscreen during the winter as UVA rays have the ability to penetrate through clouds.
- Limit your exposure to the sun - Avoid being in the sun between 10:00am to 4:00pm when the sun rays are strongest.
- Wear protective gear - This includes long pants and shirts with long sleeves (when possible) as well as a hat and sunglasses.
* This Blog was written to provide general information only and should not be seen as a replacement for a professional medical consultation. It is highly recommended to always consult your healthcare provider prior to trying a new treatment or a product.