Friday, January 13, 2012

Things to Know About Sun and Skin

Sunny days are great for picnics and afternoons at the pool, but they can also be dangerous. Ultraviolet rays are emitted by the sun and can causes significant damage. The National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health define ultraviolet rays as an invisible form of radiation that can penetrate and damage the skin.
Collagen is a protein that helps keep the skin firm and tight. Ultraviolet rays from the sun can penetrate deep into skin and break down collagen, resulting in the formation of wrinkles. Unlike many other proteins and substances within the body, collagen cannot be rebuilt once it is broken down. According to, approximately 80 percent of skin aging can be attributed to the sun.
Sun Spots
Many individuals who have spent significant time exposed to the sun develop sun spots and freckles. These are signs of overexposure to UV rays and are most often found on parts of the body that are commonly exposed to sunlight, such as the legs, arms, and neck. Sun spots are also commonly referred to as age spots because they often occur in older individuals, although they can affect someone of any age.
Although many people consider a tan to be a "healthy glow," according to, a tan is not healthy at all. A tan signifies damage to the skin. Melanin, the dark pigment produced by the skin, is produced when the skin is exposed to the sun. Melanin attempts to protect the skin from further damage. equates the protection level of a tan to that of SPF 4.
Sunburns are an unpleasant side effect of overexposure to ultraviolet rays and can be very painful. Warmth and redness, common symptoms of a sunburn, are caused by increased blood flow to the area of overexposure. The increased blood flow to the injured area allows white blood cells to rid the body of dead skin cells and repair the damage. Repetitive sunburns can lead to permanent skin damage and could result in the development of skin cancer.
Everyone is at risk for sun damage. Although individuals with darker skin have more protection from the sun than fairer-skinned individuals, they are still at risk for damage and need regular protection when exposed to the sun. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends sun protection year round, not only during the summer months. They consider the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the most hazardous for sun exposure and urge special precautions be taken during this time.
The CDC provides simple guidelines to make sun protections easier. They recommend using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and UVA and UVB protection. Wear clothing to protect exposed skin and hats to protect the eyes face and neck. Sunglasses are another staple item to include in any beach bag. Those that wrap around the eyes and block as close to 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays are best. Finally, the CDC recommends seeking shade when possible, especially during midday hours. The National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health share the same recommendations as the CDC. They also encourage avoiding tanning beds and sunlamps.

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