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How the Sun Can Affect Our Health

The majority of us love to be out in the sun, and can’t wait when it’s time to go on holiday, or for summer to arrive. However, a lot of us don’t realise the damage that the sun can cause to our health. In this article, we will explore how the sun can negatively impact our bodies, and suggest ways you can protect yourself.

Sun

Skin

It is likely that most of us have experienced sunburn at least once in our lifetime. Some people are lucky enough to have skin that does not burn, where the melanin absorbs the heat without doing too much damage. However, exposure to the sun can be causing changes to the skin that you may not even be aware of. If you stay in the sun without protection, whether your skin burns or not, this encourages ageing.

Amaro-Ortiz et al. (2014) investigated the ageing of the skin by the sun. The researchers looked at three types of ultraviolet radiation found in sunlight, known as UVA, UVB and UVC. UVA has the longest wavelength, and UVC the shortest. They found that UVB affects the top layer of the skin called the epidermis. Worryingly, this type of radiation also damages the DNA in the skin. UVA has the same effect as UVB, though can penetrate deeper into the skin, reaching the dermis. Crucially, UVA can indirectly stimulate the mutation of DNA. The study estimates that ultraviolet radiation causes 80% of visible ageing.

Both UVB and UVA are thought to increase your chances of developing skin cancer. The same study also showed that periods of excessive sun exposure that cause sunburn are directly linked to the occurrence of skin cancer and melanoma. Melanoma is a type of skin cancer identified by dark marks on the skin, and changes in the appearance of moles. It is particularly dangerous, as it can spread.

Skin Damage

Exposure to the sun is more likely to affect our skin as we get older. An example of this is the occurrence of age spots. Age spots are areas of darker skin, caused by excess production of melanin. They tend to occur in areas that receive the most exposure to the sun. Furthermore, if you have a history of using tanning beds and frequent sun exposure, then your skin may be more vulnerable.

Regarding the protection of your skin from the sun’s radiation, the NHS advises that you use sun cream that has an SPF factor of at least 15, and a four-star UVA protection rating. Try to avoid the sun at it’s hottest level, which tends to be in the middle of the day. Don’t be fooled by the temperature! Even if it’s cold outside, your skin can still burn! Look after your skin to prevent it from ageing prematurely, ensuring that you look young and healthy for as long as possible!

Eyes

It is just as important to protect your eyes from sunlight. The surface of the eye can burn, which will be painful and very uncomfortable. Even if you are not looking directly at the sun, you can still cause significant damage to your eyes. Sunlight can reflect off surfaces such as snow, which is equally as harmful.

Your eyelids are also vulnerable to damage by the sun, and develop cancers. You can identify this by a loss of eyelashes, the appearance of lumps, or signs of inflammation. Studies have shown that excessive sun exposure increases the chance of eye problems developing with age. UVB rays can cause cataracts, which are essentially the clouding of the lens in the eye. UVA rays damage the retina at the back of the eye, though this is only in extreme cases.

To protect your eyes from the sun, wear glasses that do not allow the penetration of more than 1 per cent of UVB and UVA. Always avoid looking directly at the sun as this can cause blindness and permanent damage to the eyes. Consider wearing a hat as well, because this helps to shield your eyes!

Sun Protection

Overall, this shows that going out in the sun without adequate protection is no joke! You must take care of your skin and eyes, as these are incredibly valuable and we take them for granted. Furthermore, due to the sensitive nature of these areas, any damage done will be dangerous and painful. Don’t risk it!

If you do have age spots, our Cryotherapy procedure can help to get rid of these. We use the CryoPen to freeze the age spots and other skin imperfections, in a fast and effective treatment.

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