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Monday, November 9

Sun Damage - What are the Effects of Sun Exposure?

Sun damage is a dangerous and a regular threat to all. It is difficult to avoid the sun and therefore easy to be harmed by it. What can the sun do to negatively impact your skin? Studies have shown numerous harmful effects of UV radiation. These include wrinkles, spider veins, age spots, blotchy complexion and threats of skin cancer. The following familiarizes you with the most common effects, how they are caused, and what can be done to prevent them. Make sure you are informed about the risks of sun exposure in order to care for yourself now and protect yourself in the future.

How Does the Sun Damage Skin?

Scientists have found the reactions that UV rays can cause that go beyond the skin's surface. There are visible signs of damage on the skin's surface, however, more harm is being done that we can not see. UV rays penetrate the skin and produce free radicals and that lead to collagen break down, wrinkles, and possible cancer. The destruction of collagen is also associated with a build up of abnormal elastin. The sun's harmful rays create an enzyme that produces a incompetent type of collagen tissue. This continued process of faulty collagen restoration produces wrinkles. UV exposure also results in a higher number of free radicals. Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules looking for electrons, a process that can damage cells and change genetic material, leading to threats of cancer. UV exposure also is destructive to pigment producing cells and causes brown pigmentation and blotchy complexion. These underlying reactions caused by sun exposure create nasty effects that are difficult to reverse.

How does the Sun Cause Wrinkles?

One of the most common effects of UV radiation is wrinkles. Wrinkles show up on the parts of your body where UV exposure is the greatest. The breakdown of collagen and creation of free radicals causes the appearance of both fine surface wrinkles as well as deep furrows. Collagen is the protein that holds your skin together to make it firm and smooth. Skin that lacks adequate collagen levels is left saggy and wrinkled. Unfortunately, collagen can not restore itself after it is damaged. Facial wrinkles are created in this manner up to 80 percent of the time.

How does the Sun Cause Age Spots?

A second common outcome of sun exposure is age spots. Our skin has a melanin pigment that helps absorb the sunlight in order to protect our skin from UV rays. Unfortunately, aging skin loses its capability to deflect UV rays and it starts to show signs of age spots. These come from the sun's ability to damage melanocytes, which are the cells that produce melanin. As time goes by, sun exposure causes more pigment than normal to be deposited in the skin. This leads eventually to flat, brown skin lesions known as age spots.

How do you Protect Yourself From the Sun?

If you are able to do so, it is most effective to stay out of the sun completely or at least during the hours of the day when the sun's rays are the strongest. If you can't keep yourself out of the sun, it is vital to use sunscreen. This is important to do everyday, even if you have makeup that boasts sun protection. If you find yourself outside for awhile, it is important to reapply sunscreen every two hours. Also be aware if you are taking any medications that cause you to be more vulnerable to the sun. For those at higher risk, it is recommended to apply sunscreen as well as use other protective layers such as hats, glasses, and clothing that limits your skin's exposure to the sun. Take care of yourself by protecting your skin from future harms due to sun damage as well as addressing already visible signs of aging with natural skin care. -Valerie DeVette

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