The damaging UV radiation in sunlight can lead to many skin problems, including sunburn, age spots, wrinkles, melasma, freckles, allergic rashes, and precancerous lesions called actinic keratoses. Most importantly, overexposure to sunlight is the major cause of skin cancer, including melanoma. It is important for everyone to be aware of the damaging effects of sunlight and take measures to avoid overexposure.
Although many people enjoy the appearance of tanned skin and think it looks “healthy,” tanned skin is damaged skin. The ultraviolet radiation in sunlight penetrates the deepest layers of the skin where it harms the cells.
The body responds by making more pigment (melanin) to try to protect itself, but the damage has already happened and may be permanent. The more exposure you have to the sun, the more likely you are to develop skin problems later in life
The first and most effective way to avoid sun damage is to stay out of the sun as much as possible. If you cannot avoid being exposed to sunlight, there are five basic sun defenses that you should keep in mind when you go outdoors:
- Avoid peak hours of sunlight (10AM to 3PM )
- Sunscreen ( Apply liberally and reapply every few hours )
Enjoy the outdoors, but with intentions to protect your skin. We will discuss each of these protection strategies in more detail in the days to follow as we continue the Georgia Dermatology Partners blog.