It's a known fact that prolonged exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun damages the skin, thereby causing it to turn red and blotchy. This write-up provides information on the effects of the ultraviolet rays of the sun on the skin.
Though sunlight helps in the synthesis of vitamin D, prolonged sun exposure can damage the skin. It can cause premature aging of the skin and lead to the formation of age spots. It can lead to a change in the texture of the skin. It can even put one at an increased risk of developing actinic keratoses (benign warty growths on the skin), and skin cancer. A sunburn is a skin condition that is characterized by blotchy skin. The best way to prevent this condition is to minimize sun exposure and follow certain precautionary measures.
Effects of Sun Exposure on the Skin
Melanin is a pigment that is produced by specialized cells called melanocytes. It protects the skin by absorbing the ultraviolet rays of the sun. There are two types of ultraviolet rays: UVA and UVB. While the former penetrates into the skin, thereby damaging the dermis or the middle layer, the latter is absorbed by the epidermis, which is the top layer of skin. UVA causes premature aging, whereas UVB causes tanning and sunburns. When the amount of UV exposure is far more than what can be protected against by the skin’s melanin, the skin becomes red, inflamed, and irritated. Individuals with light skin have less melanin, and are at a greater risk of developing sunburns.
The symptoms of sunburn include redness and peeling of the skin. Since the facial skin is extremely delicate, exposure to UV rays can cause unsightly skin blotches. Allergic reactions to sun exposure or photosensitivity could also manifest in the form of red blotchy skin.
Over time, continued exposure affects the skin’s elasticity and changes the texture of the skin, giving rise to blotchy skin, brown spots, fine lines, and wrinkles. Sunspots, also known as age spots, generally appear when the epidermis is exposed to the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. Those who are fair skinned generally develop brown or red-colored spots on skin. Since sunspots are considerably darker than one’s skin color, these can make the skin look blotchy. Cumulative effect of skin exposure throughout one’s life could also manifest in the form of serious skin diseases such as skin cancer.
The treatment for sunburn might involve the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or topical corticosteroids to ease the pain and inflammation. Application of cool compresses or gels containing menthol, aloe vera, or camphor might also help. The best way to prevent sunburns is to minimize sun exposure. The intensity of the rays of the sun will vary, depending on the time of year. UV rays are strongest during summer, and their concentration is highest during midday. It would be best to stay indoors at this time. If you need to go out during this time, cover your skin or wear protective clothing. Wearing broad-brimmed hats and sunglasses will also prove beneficial. Make sure that you apply a sunscreen about thirty minutes before stepping out in sun. Make sure that the sunscreen has a high SPF.
If sunspots or age spots have already started appearing on your skin, you must consult a dermatologist. Using peels made from glycolic acid is an effective way of treating age spots. Laser treatments can also help fade these spots. Sagging skin, wrinkles, fine lines, or hyperpigmentation on face can be treated with laser therapy. You can also try some home remedies to reverse sun damage. Application of aloe vera, honey, cold milk, or cucumber juice can help soothe the sun-damaged skin.
Prolonged exposure to the UV rays can put one at a risk of skin cancer, especially in case of people with light skin, moles, and those with a family history of skin cancer. Therefore, take all the necessary steps to protect your skin from the sun.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a dermatologist.