The process in which skin colour is darkened is called skin tanning. When this occurs because of exposure to sunlight, it is known as ‘sun tanning.’ In the days of yore, ladies used to cover themselves up completely and maintain a pale skin, which was considered a symbol of class. As times changed, having a pale skin was considered unhealthy. People understood the therapeutic benefits of sunlight. Diseases such as rickets and lupus vulgaris could be effectively treated with sunlight exposure. Heliotherapy or sunbathing became a leisurely activity for the high-class people. In the Western culture, sun tanning became a fashion statement. With the increasing craze for a tanned skin, indoor tanning beds have become highly popular.
HUMAN BODY’S NATURAL RESPONSE TO SUN EXPOSURE:
Melanin and vitamin D production: Human body produces melanin and vitamin D in response to sun exposure. Vitamin D has a number of beneficial effects for the body, including preventing diseases like rickets. It also helps in the proper absorption and utilization of calcium. Moderate sun exposure is good for the human body.
Melanin is the natural pigment produced by cells known as melanocytes. Melanin protects the body by absorbing UV radiation. When the skin is overexposed to UV radiation, more melanin is produced to repair the sun-damaged skin. This causes the skin colour to darken. UVA radiation exposure does not cause over-production of melanin. It simply causes existing melanin to darken. UVB radiation exposure causes increased production of melanin. This tan becomes visible a few days after radiation exposure and lasts for a few months. it provides an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of around 3.
Over-exposure to sunlight causes irreparable damage to skin and is associated with numerous other risks. Let us take a look at the dangers of excessive sun exposure.
Response to UVA and UVB radiations: Both UVA and UVB radiations cause direct and indirect DNA damage to the skin. UVA is present throughout the year and is known to be carcinogenic. UVB causes sunburn. It also produces vitamin D in the human skin and stimulates new melanin production.
DANGERS OF EXCESSIVE SUN EXPOSURE:
Sunburn: This is the most common risk of UV radiation exposure. It is a form of radiation burn. The skin becomes red and hot to the touch. It is generally accompanied by fatigue and sometimes mild dizziness. Sunburn occurs due to direct DNA damage by UV radiation. Due to cell death in the damaged area, the dead skin is replaced by new cells.
Skin cancer: Greater than 90% of skin cancer cases are due to exposure to UV radiation from the sun. There is an increased risk for all the 3 types of skin cancers (basal cell, squamous cell and melanoma). People with light skin type are at higher risk, as well as people with a weakened immune system. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the world. Basal cell and squamous cell cancers are often caused by direct DNA damage due to UVB radiation. Malignant melanoma is primarily caused by UVA radiation exposure through indirect DNA damage.
Phototoxic reactions: Sunlight might interact with some drugs and chemicals in the skin. This causes a reaction which resembles a high-degree sunburn.
Phytophotodermatitis: Some people get an allergic reaction upon exposure to certain plants in the presence of sun exposure. It causes redness, pain, and blistering of the skin.
Polymorphic light eruption: Appearance of pink-to-red bumps on the skin due to recurrent abnormal reaction to UVR.
Photoallergic reactions: Intense itching and thickening of the skin due to the interaction of sunlight with some drugs and chemicals in the skin.
Solar urticaria: Raised areas on the skin with reddening, accompanied by itching, that occurs within minutes of UVR exposure and fades after some hours.
Eye problems: Excessive exposure to sunlight might cause age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
Certain skin conditions (lupus, rosacea, etc.) can increase in severity with exposure to UVR.
The WHO, the American Academy of Dermatology, and Skin Cancer foundation suggest some measures to prevent excessive UVR exposure.
- Avoid exposure when UV rays are most intense (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.).
- Use sunscreen. Sunscreen with higher SPF reduces direct DNA damage. It is effective in preventing melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma, but cannot prevent basal cell carcinoma. Sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher is recommended. For best protection, sunscreen should be applied 15 to 30 minutes before exposure and reapplied 15 to 30 minutes after exposure begins.
- Avoid tanning beds and exposure to artificial UVR.
- Wear protective clothing when out in the sun, like long-sleeved shirts, loose-fitting clothing, sunglasses, and wide-brimmed hats.
- Using vitamin C and vitamin E supplements reduces the amount of sunburn.
- Keep well-hydrated.
In spite of taking all precautions, if you suffer from sunburn, don’t panic. The following measures will be helpful:
- Take cool baths for pain relief.
- Do not pop the blisters.
- Keep yourself well hydrated.
- Use anti-inflammatory medications for pain relief.
- Wear loose clothing.
In case you acquire sun tanning due to overexposure, Mesmara is at your service. Mesmara’s Professional De Tan Cream is very effective in removing tan. It is suitable for all skin types. It is free of harmful chemicals including Parabens, mineral oils, and synthetic fragrances. It keeps the skin well moisturized. It removes dead skin and renews skin cells for rejuvenation. So friends, do not hesitate to use Mesmara’s wonderful product, which will make your skin fresh and glowing once again!!