The harmful effects of the sun on skin and health

Tanning, sunburn, aging of the skin, skin cancer, etc. Unfortunately, the sun does not have only beneficial effects.

The effects of sun’s rays

Sunlight is essential not only to life, but for mood as well. What an incredible feeling it is to feel the sun on our skin! Unfortunately, sun rays do not have only beneficial effects. Without adequate protection, they damage the skin. This damage can be manifested immediately, such as in the form of a sunburn, or over time.

Here is an overview of the effects of the sun on skin and health.

Sunburn

A sunburn can develop within a few hours following excessive sun exposure. It can result in mild and transient symptoms, such as skin redness and a feeling of tightness or discomfort. It sometimes causes significant redness, pain and the appearance of peeling skin or blisters. It can also be accompanied by fever.

Keep in mind that this is a skin burn that requires first aid. Serious cases even warrant a medical visit. It is always preferable to see a doctor if a baby or child is sunburned.

Heatstroke is another example of a serious reaction to excessive sun exposure that often requires medical care.

Photosensitivity reactions

Photosensitivity is an abnormal reaction to the combined action of certain substances and exposure to sun rays. Various types of products, including certain cosmetic products or perfumes are not compatible with the sun.

Certain medications can also cause photosensitivity reactions, in other words, change the way skin reacts to the sun. Among them, we find antibiotics, diuretics, hormones (e.g., birth control medication) and acne products.

If you have any questions on the subject, don’t hesitate to speak to your pharmacist, who will provide you with the appropriate information.

Tanning

A suntan occurs when the sun’s rays penetrate deeply into the skin’s layers, stimulating the production of melanin, which rises to the surface of the skin. This process gives the skin its tanned colour following exposure to the sun. It is a mechanism used by the body to protect the skin.

Contrary to popular belief, a suntan is not a sign of good health. In fact, it is a response by the body to an aggression. Generally speaking, the darker the tan, the greater the damage to the skin. Suntanning should never be relied on as an effective sun protection measure. Instead, it should serve as a reminder of the importance of better protecting your skin.

Premature aging of the skin

The sun’s rays have the immediate effect of drying out the skin. Overexposure can sometimes lead to loss of moisture and elasticity, making lines and wrinkles suddenly seem more apparent.

However, in the long-term, it is the aging of the skin that is most concerning. When individuals expose their skin to the sun frequently or for long periods of time, their skin ages faster. This can be explained, among other things, by the fact that ultraviolet rays damage skin cells by altering their membrane and by destroying their DNA chain.

The appearance of age spots (or dark spots) is directly linked to exposure to ultraviolet rays and causes esthetic concerns for many people, especially women. The spots are the result of the hyperproduction of melanin. These often stubborn spots accumulate over time. Effective sun protection helps to prevent this problem.

Skin cancer 

A connection between sun exposure and skin cancer has been clearly demonstrated. The more a person has been exposed to the sun during his/her lifetime, the higher the risk of developing skin cancer.

Some skin cancers are relatively easy to treat and heal, while others are more serious and have a grimmer prognosis, especially if they are not detected early. Adequate sun protection throughout one’s life, especially during childhood and adolescence, significantly helps to reduce the risks of skin cancer.

Sun protection

In order to counter the harmful effects of the sun, nothing works better than to apply strict measures to provide season-long protection starting at a young age and throughout one’s lifetime.

Limiting sun exposure as much as possible is certainly an effective protection measure. However, when contact with the sun is unavoidable or intended, the application of an effective, quality sunscreen is crucial. Opt for a formulation that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more and that is suitable for your skin type.

Speak to your pharmacist for additional information about sun protection.

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The harmful effects of the sun on skin and health

Learn to avoid the harmful effects of tanning, sunburn and skin aging through healthy habits and adapted protection.
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