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Sun Damage - What You Need To Know

Many people lay out in the sun for long periods of time in order to get a tan. They prefer the appearance of darker skin. It improves their confidence and self-esteem. You will pay a very high price if you decide to tan your skin on a regular basis. It is important to understand why your skin becomes a darker color when you are out in the sun for an extended period of time.

What causes your skin to tan?

The sexy tan that you enjoy so much is actually your skin's way of protecting itself from the damage you are doing to it. Your skin absorbs ultraviolet A (UVA) rays from the sun. These can penetrate deep within the lower layers of your epidermis. The penetration of UVA rays causes cells known as melanocytes to create melanin. This is the brown pigment that causes your skin to become darker. The production of melanin is the way that your body tries to prevent you from getting a sunburn. However, melanin will not be able to adequately protect your skin if you are out in the sun for a long time without the proper sunscreen.

Risks of prolonged sun exposure

There are a wide range of problems that you could face from prolonged sun exposure. The problems you experience will depend a lot on your genetics. People with darker skin will generally not burn as easily as people with pale skin. Here are some of the issues that you might experience if you do not limit your sun exposure.

1. Wrinkles

People want to get a tan to improve their appearance. However, what they often do not realize is that they are hurting their appearance at the same time. One of the most common side effects of having too much sun exposure is the development of premature wrinkles. People will get wrinkles as they get older. It is a natural part of the aging process. However, laying in the sun for long periods of time can speed up this process significantly. Skin fibers called elastin are damaged by the sun's ultraviolet rays. This causes skin to begin sagging. As a result, young people look much older than they actually are.

2. Squamous cell carcinoma

This is a form of skin cancer that can appear in several different ways. It can be a sore that won't heal, a bump that bleeds or a bump that is hard and red. It is common for this cancer to form on a person's hands, forehead, nose and other places that are frequently exposed to sunlight.

3. Basal cell carcinoma

This is the least serious form of skin cancer because of the fact that it spreads at a slow rate. However, it should still be taken seriously. It can appear as a patch or a bump. It is often scaly and can be seen with blood vessels surrounding it.

4. Melanoma

This is the rarest form of skin cancer. However, it is also the most dangerous. Indicators are usually a discoloration of the skin or a mole that looks different than it did before. Melanoma has the ability to spread to a person's bones and organs if it is not treated soon enough. However, melanoma is completely curable if it is detected in its early stages.

It is possible to enjoy the sun without suffering from any of the issues listed above. You simply need to limit your sun exposure. Always where a powerful sunscreen on every part of your skin that will be exposed to the sun. You should also avoid using a tanning bed. Doing these things will ensure that your skin remains healthy as you get older.

The content on this page is for informational and educational purposes only and does not constitute professional medical advice. Patients should not use the information presented on this page for diagnosing a health-related issue or disease. Before taking any medication or supplements, patients should always consult a physician or qualified healthcare professional for medical advice or information about whether a drug is safe, appropriate or effective.