Date: May 2017
Protecting your skin from the sun could help to save your life. It can prevent the sun damage that leads to skin cancer, as well as many other skin problems.
How the Sun Damages Your Skin
Sunlight contains a range of different wavelengths of light, many of which are completely harmless. However, some of the invisible UV light that comes from the sun can damage our skin. UVA and UVB light can penetrate deep into our skin. These powerful rays can damage the DNA inside our cells. Our bodies can often repair the damage or eliminate the affected cell, but over many years the effects can build up. The accumulated damage can make our skin appear older. In some cases, a damaged cell doesn’t get repaired properly. It might start behaving oddly, which could be a problem if it begins to divide rapidly. One damaged cell could grow into a tumour.
Skin Problems Caused by Sun Damage
Sun damage can have many different effects on your skin including:
- Wrinkles: although lines are partly caused by the ageing of your skin, sun damage also plays a role, leaving you with deeper wrinkles and older looking skin.
- Age spots and freckles: the sun can trigger melanin production in patches of your skin, creating darker spots that you might find unsightly.
- Actinic keratoses: non-cancerous scaly growths that often appear on the ears, nose and other spots exposed to sun damage.
- Non-melanoma skin cancers: Basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas don’t usually spread, but they can create large growths that need to be removed.
- Melanoma: the most serious form of skin cancer, melanoma can be life threatening if it is not detected and treated quickly.
How to Protect Your Skin from Sun
It is important to protect your skin from the sun in order to limit the damage and prevent these problems from occurring. Sun protection can help to keep your skin looking more youthful, while also reducing the risk that you will develop skin cancer.
- Wear sunscreen every day in summer or when you’re travelling to a sunnier country
- Stay out of the sun between 11am and 3pm on sunny days
- Cover up with long sleeves, sunglasses and a hat when it’s sunny
Did you know?
Most moles are not a cause for concern and present a purely cosmetic problem. However, moles can occasionally undergo changes that lead to them becoming cancerous.
Acne is a common condition characterised by blackheads, whiteheads and cysts. It affects the greasy and hair-bearing areas such as the face, chest and back.