Thursday, 22 June 2017

Sun Damage to Your Skin: The Basics You Should Know

What is sun damage?

All of us love to bask in the warmth of the sun; however, excessive exposure can damage your skin in several ways. Its heat can deprive your skin of its natural lubricating oils; its harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation can lead to undesirable effects on your skin like wrinkly skin, freckles, premature aging and brown spots.

Exposure to UV rays of the sun is the major contributory factor to premature aging of your skin. If you are fair skinned with light colored eyes, you are at greater risk of developing sun-related skin damage and eventually even skin cancer.

Types of sun damage

Uneven pigmentation: When you run the risk of too much exposure to the sun, your skin starts increased production of a pigment called melanin that makes your skin look dark or suntanned. This may sometimes cause an irregular pigmentation of the skin. Sunrays in some cases may stretch small blood vessels, giving your skin a reddish look.

Age spots: Flat spots, usually brown, black or gray in color, occur when skin pigmentation peaks. Varying in size, they usually crop up on areas most exposed to the sun like the face, hands, arms and upper back. These spots are most common in older adults. However, young people too may not be spared of this condition, when overexposed to the sun without protection.

Melasma: This is a brownish darkening of your facial skin, occurring especially on the forehead and cheeks. Exposure to sunlight precipitates this condition. It is called ‘mask of pregnancy’ as well, and is likely to develop when there is an increase in the production of estrogen and progesterone, the female hormones. It affects usually women who are dark-skinned, pregnant or those consuming oral contraceptives or undergoing hormone therapy.


The following are two commonest symptoms of sun damage.

  • Dry skin: On prolonged exposure to sunrays, your skin would lose natural oils, and appear dry and flaky. This could result in a more wrinkled appearance, making you look older than you actually are.
  • Sunburn: If you are experiencing mild sunburn, you may have pain and redness in the affected area. You would get painful blisters in a severe case; nausea and dizziness may perhaps be other discomforts that come along with it.

Prevention and treatment

Here are some easy-to-follow preventive methods to shield your skin from the damaging effects of the sun.

  1. Your lying on the beach is not the only occasion when harmful rays of the sun play the bad boy; staying outdoors under the sun for longer than 15 minutes too could be equally damaging to your skin. Make sure to dab on a thick layer of sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30. If you are using a moisturizer, make it do double duty, along with sunscreen guard. Reapply it liberally at least every two hours as long as you stay outdoors.
  2. If you are going for a swim in the hot day, waterproof sunscreen is the best bet as a protective measure.
  3. Pick up a wide-brimmed (no less than a 2–3 inch) hat of a tightly woven fabric such as canvas to shield the skin on your face, neck and ears.
  4. Wear clothing made of tightly woven materials in dark shades.
  5. Keep an eye on the clock. Harmful UV rays of the sun are strongest between 10 am and 4 pm. If you plan to go out during these hours, stay in shade, or wear a hat or use sunscreen.
  6. Guard your eyes, as they are the first to show off your age. Pick sunglasses with wider lenses to block out sunrays better and protect the delicate skin around your eyes.

In case of mild sunburn, you could try the following home remedies to relieve you of the discomfort.

  1. Apply aloe vera gel to soothe the burn.
  2. Soak a washcloth in cool water and apply it as a cool compress several times through the day. Add to the water baking soda as a soothing ingredient.
  3. Replenish your dehydrated system with water and other liquids for your burn to heal faster.

If there is no reprieve from these simple home fixes, it is best to seek the expert assistance of a qualified and reputed aesthetic medical practitioner.

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