Feel the burn: Why protecting your skin from the sun is essential

Whether we realise it or not, we all have a complicated relationship with sunlight. The sun provides us with light, warmth and essential vitamin D, but it also emits harmful radiation.

Since the damaging effects of UV rays appear to heal and disappear, many people believe the skin is self-repairing. However, skin damage is cumulative, meaning the effects of sun damage never disappears, and instead builds up throughout life.

With a wealth of research supporting the link between sun exposure, skin damage and cancer, it has never been more important to stay protected in the sun.


 

Why is sun exposure dangerous?

 

The sun gives off two types of radiation: UVA and UVB rays. These types of rays cause different types of damage: UVB causes visible damage, or sunburn, whereas UVA radiation penetrates deep into the skin, contributing to the aging process.

Both types of radiation cause damage linked with skin cancer. Sunburn is more than just painful, and just five blistering sunburns between ages 15 and 20 can increase your risk of skin cancer by 80%.

It is now thought that just one instance of sunburn may alter tumour-suppressing genes.

To reduce the risk of skin cancer, avoid sun exposure during the hottest times of the day, and wear sunscreen every day. Ensure your sunscreen has a high SPF and filters out both types of UV radiation.

 

UV radiation ages the skin

 

The effects of UV radiation on skin are well known but often underestimated: sun damage causes up to 80% of skin ageing, including wrinkles, skin elasticity and pigmentation. Despite this, only 50% of women use a UVA and UVB protective sunscreen every day.

Sun protection is about more than just avoiding painful walks home from the beach. It is also important to guard against the everyday damage that builds up, coming back with a vengeance in later life.

In fact, cloudy days are no reason to shun the SPF. While clouds and ozone absorb UVB rays, they soak up little to no UVA. Select a face cream with adequate UVA protection from the range at Pharmacy Outlet to give your skin a youthful boost.

As well as speeding up the skin’s ageing process, sun exposure can exacerbate a number of skin conditions, including Shingles and Vitiligo. Too much sun exposure can disrupt the healing process, creating lasting scars. At the same time, progressive skin conditions can be slowed by avoiding UV exposure.

  

Sorting the myths from the facts

There are a number of myths surrounding the true danger the sun poses to skin health. Importantly, the benefits of vitamin D absorption cannot exist without all the risks of sun exposure. There are often safer ways to ensure you are getting sufficient vitamin D: in whole foods, fortified cereals and diet supplements. It is also true that all skin types can suffer UV damage, including very dark skin – although people with very fair skin should take extra precautions.

Secondly, the common myth that tanning can be healthy is false. When the skin tans or burns, it is reacting to UV damage. To enjoy the sun safely and minimise risk, avoid spending extended periods in direct sunlight when UV radiation is high, and invest in a broad spectrum sunscreen made up of both physical and chemical blockers.