We hitch a ride as our planet revolves around the sun in a constant process that provides light and dark. When shining, this star provides illumination and warmth and triggers the cholesterol in our skin to produce essential vitamin D to keep us healthy. While there are so many benefits to the sun, too much may cause problems with our skin.
Ultraviolet radiation comes in the form of UVA, UVB and UVC rays:
- UVC: This is the most dangerous type of radiation, but fortunately, it is stopped by the ozone layer. You do, however, get it from welding and lasers.
- UVB: UVB is partially filtered out by the ozone layer but penetrates the top layer of skin.
- UVA: This flows freely towards our bodies and penetrates down to the middle layer of skin.
What types of sun damage can you get from the sun?
Type #1: Sun Tan
Many people worship the sun for its tanning effects and will lay out until they get that golden hue they are after. An immediate tan is from UVA exposure, while UVB rays cause a tan to develop several days after. The problem is that a tan is a molecular change in the skin; no matter how tanned you are, it is unhealthy.
Type #2: Sun Burn
The longer you stay in the sun, the more tanned you will get; most people have experienced sunburn. This comes in two degrees:
- First Degree: This is a reddening of the skin that hurts when touched.
- Second Degree: Blistering happens with a second-degree burn and deep tissue damage.
A sunburn, especially early in life, increases the chance of melanoma later on as you get older.
Type #3: Freckles
Freckles or pigmented cells are hereditary and triggered by sun exposure. They usually appear in children around age five, and while they are usually harmless, they should be monitored for changes in their appearance. Freckles get darker in the summer months as you get more sun exposure.
Type #4: Sun Spots
Sunspots accurately describe the dark patches on your skin when you have lots of sun exposure as you age. The body works to combat UV damage by overproducing melanin, and these solar lettings will appear on your face, neck, chest, arms, hands and legs.
Type #5: Actinic Keratosis And Cheilitis
The skin damage from the sun can appear as rough, red or brown, scaly patches, and this is because of overexposure. You get this on most body parts, from the top of the head to the top of your feet.
Actinic cheilitis, or farmer’s lip, is a scaly patch on the bottom lip that persistently is dry and cracked.
Type #6: Melasma
If you notice abnormal, discoloured patches of skin on the nose, cheeks, chin and forehead, you may have melasma. Hormonal changes and UV radiation trigger it, and once melasma shows up, it is important to have protection from the sun so it doesn’t get worse.
Type #7: Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells caused by exposure to the sun’s rays. The most common types are:
Basil Cell Carcinoma
This type begins in the basal cells in the lower epidermis.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamish cells comprise most of the epidermis, and skin cancer often develops here.
Merkel Cell Cancer
This is a fairly aggressive but rare form of skin cancer that develops in hormone-producing skin cells at the hair follicles around the head and neck.
Where the epidermis meets the dermis are the melanocyte cells. This most aggressive form accounts for around 1 % of all skin cancers.
Sun Damage On the Face
When you spend years exposed to the sun, the skin on the face will show it. Sun damage on the face will show up as:
This includes scaly and crusty patches of skin that are thicker and raised off the surface around it.
The elasticity in the skin comes from collagen, but it can change with long-term sun exposure and get damaged. You will develop fine lines and wrinkles as your skin ages.
Sagging skin happens when collagen and elastin deteriorate, caused by sun exposure, various lifestyle choices, and aging.
Occurs when you experience uneven skin tone, where parts are discoloured. While genetics play a factor, sun damage to the skin also causes this.
You can get decreased pressure around the blood vessels as the collagen deteriorates. This appears on the skin’s surface, presenting as red, blue and purple lines, similar to a spider web.
These are the most common types of skin damage from the sun. Remember that the sun is our friend but one that we must respect. Allow your skin to be exposed to the sun for short periods, and then use a hat, covered clothing, and sunblock to extend your time outdoors.