Friday, January 13, 2012

Sun Exposure and Skin Damage

Sun exposure occurs when your skin and hair has been exposed to the bare elements of the sun's rays. It may not seem like any damage is occurring when you are out pulling weeds in your garden or swimming in the pool. However, the sun's rays are very damaging to your skin, even when the sun is not shining bright. The American Academy of Dermatology explains that UVA rays and sun damage contribute to aging skin, wrinkles and the development of some skin cancers.
The sun has two types of rays that are very damaging to your skin. Generally referred to as UV, or ultraviolet, rays, they can be categorized into UVA and UVB. UVA rays directly affect the skin long term. They are the leading cause of sun spots, age spots, deep wrinkles and skin discolorations. While the damage from UVA is rarely seen immediately after exposure, it may not surface until years later in the form of a wrinkle or sun spot on your body. UVB rays are what give you a sunburn. Immediately you feel the effect of the skin's cells changing as they are damaged by the sun.
Time Frame
Any time that you venture outdoors into the sun you should apply some form of sunscreen to protect your skin. Medline Plus explains that the sun's rays are the most damaging between 10 a.m and 4 p.m. These are the peak hours of the day that you should try to avoid direct sun exposure. This includes limiting the time that your bare skin is exposed to the rays, even in water or sand. Limiting or cutting back your time in a tanning booth or bed can also help prevent further UV damage to skin.
Sun damage usually occurs when you go outside and your skin is exposed to UV rays, but you can also get sun damage results when you are exposed to UV rays inside a tanning booth. The Federal Drug Administration states that UV damage from a tanning booth or the sun can also cause eye damage, immune suppression, premature aging and allergic reactions to the UV rays. Your hair can also be affected by the sun. The sun can damage your hair's outer layer leaving behind split ends and dryness.
Treating your skin after UV exposure is important. You should begin by first treating any type of sunburn with soothing aloe vera. Keep your skin hydrated with lotion that will replenish lost oils and moisture. Visit your dermatologist if you suspect you are developing actinic keratosis or small dark spots or discolorations on the skin. He may prescribe medication or also recommend laser therapy or skin resurfacing.
Preventing sun-damaged skin and hair begins with UV protection in the form of sun protection factor, or SPF. If you have to be exposed to the sun's rays, products containing SPF will protect you up to a point. There are hair products that also contain SPF so you can protect your hair from excessive dryness and discoloration. Wearing protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, sunglasses and hats will also help protect from UV rays.

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