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Effects of Sun on the Skin

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The overexposure of ultraviolet rays of the sun can seriously damage skin. Read more about the topic in detail.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. V. Srikanth Reddy

Published At May 10, 2023
Reviewed AtFebruary 27, 2024

Introduction:

Sunlight has both beneficial as well as harmful effects. It may help the skin produce sunlight helps the skin produce vitamin D, which is necessary for healthy bone growth and the immune system. Vitamin D can be obtained through dietary supplements without having a carcinogenic impact; however, these supplements have low absorption and do not produce nitric oxide, which may help to maintain skin integrity. Therefore experts say that most people only require 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure per day. However, individuals with darker skin types require a little more sun exposure due to increased melanin (around 25 to 40 minutes), a chemical that acts as a natural sunscreen.

Sunlight consists of visible rays and invisible rays that reach the earth. Long waves, like radio waves, are safer and harmless. The ultraviolet rays are the longest rays, the ones that most frequently hit the earth's surface. However, shorter waves, such as ultraviolet (UV) radiation, can be harmful. Ultraviolet rays B are the shorter ones.

Why Is Sun Exposure Important?

  • Bone Growth - Vitamin D, produced by sunlight and necessary for bone health, aids in the body's absorption of calcium. Osteoporosis and osteopenia can both be avoided in this way. In addition, healthy bones can reduce the risk of fractures (breaks).

  • Adequate Sleep - Getting enough sunlight can help fight mood disorders such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD is a form of depression that usually develops due to less adequate sunlight exposure).

  • Sunlight Kills Bacteria - Sunlight may kill harmful bacteria by producing electromagnetic energy that can stop bacteria from reproducing and making them inactive.

  • Regulate the Immune System - The body may produce vitamin D from cholesterol in the skin cells when exposed to sunlight. The "sunshine vitamin," vitamin D, is known for its various benefits, including its capacity to control the immune system.

What Are the Conditions Associated With Overexposure of the Sun?

  • Sunburn - Sunburn is a common injury resulting from excessive exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays. The damage occurs when ultraviolet radiation directly alters the DNA of skin cells, resulting in an inflammatory reaction. Peeling and flaking of skin are caused by the damaged cells dying and shedding.

  • Dehydration - The body loses excessive fluids or electrolytes, which may result in dehydration and difficulty functioning.

  • Heat Exhaustion - Heat exhaustion can be brought on by prolonged dehydration and sun or heat exposure. It may occur when the body's core temperature increases beyond 98.6° but not above 104°celsius.

  • Eye damage - The eyes' tissue might be harmed by ultraviolet radiation. The cornea, the outermost layer, is vulnerable to burns. They may cause eyesight blur as well. Cataracts are a long-term condition. If ignored, this could result in blindness.

  • Skin Cancer - Skin cancer is most commonly caused by the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Melanomas, the most dangerous type of skin cancer responsible for 75% of all skin cancer fatalities, are made up of abnormal melanocytes, the skin pigment cells. It is challenging to manage and can spread to other organs if left untreated.

  • Hives - Solar urticaria is the medical term for hives brought on by sun radiation. These big, itchy red welts can appear as soon as five minutes after being exposed to the sun and typically go away an hour or two later. Headaches, fatigue, and nausea are additional symptoms of this uncommon disease. Females are more likely to be affected than males.

  • Heat Stroke - Heat stroke may start as heat cramps, dizziness, or exhaustion but as it worsens, it can cause serious harm to the brain and other internal systems, even death. Young high school or college athletes who are in good health frequently suffer from life-threatening heat stroke while engaging in strenuous workouts in hot weather, unlike people over the age of 50, who are frequently affected by this condition. The body's internal temperature control system malfunctions as a result of extended exposure to extreme heat and dehydration, raising the body's core temperature above 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

What Are the Treatment Options Available for Sun Effects on the Skin?

The treatment options available for sun effects on the skin

  • Cool Bath - A cool bath or shower, cool compresses, and an over-the-counter moisturizing ointment are all effective home remedies for mild sunburn. In addition, the doctor may recommend some painkillers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve the discomfort.

  • Drinking Excessive Water - Drinking water or an electrolyte-rich sports drink may usually treat mild dehydration. However, drinking before becoming thirsty is the greatest method for avoiding dehydration.

  • Shits the Places - If someone suffers from heat exhaustion, transfer them immediately to a cool area. Eliminate any extra garments. Fan them or apply cool, moist towels to their skin to lower their body temperature. Also, offer them water or sports drinks.

  • Early Aging - The skin ages more quickly than usual when in the sun. Dark patches and leathery, tight, or wrinkled skin are symptoms of this.

How to Prevent Sun Exposure?

To Prevent sun exposure, it includes:

  • Reduce Sun Exposure - Reduce the hours spent in the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is at its strongest.

  • Apply Sunscreen - Apply sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes before going outside as sunscreen may take time to effect. Choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher that provides ultraviolet A and ultraviolet ray B protection. Apply SPF 30 or more if people have light skin.

  • Protect the Eyes - Put in sunglasses that protect the sides of the eyes and are marked as UVA and UVB blocking.

  • Self Examination - Conduct regular self-examinations of the skin at least in a month to familiarize oneself with existing growths and spot any changes or new growths.

  • Wear Ultraviolet Protections - Choose ultraviolet contact lenses, cosmetics, and clothing to prevent dangerous ultraviolet rays.

Conclusion:

Mental and physical health may benefit from sunlight in several ways, including better sleep, better mood, and a reduced risk of developing certain diseases Therefore, if anyone is going to be in the sun for an extended period, it is essential to wear sunscreen frequently to prevent skin damage and cancer.

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Dr. V. Srikanth Reddy
Dr. V. Srikanth Reddy

Dermatology

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