THE DANGERS OF
Author: Isabel Clemente - L.E. - Medical and Oncology Aesthetician
I find it very interesting to observe the social trends in history. The use of egg white and white powder was popular in the Elizabethan Era. It is said that the aristocracy of that period wore them to cover up any signs of tanning, which was a trademark of peasants. Today, a large number of men and women think that to have a tan is to look good and healthy. Some even become sun worshipers and we can see the results in the premature aging, hyperpigmentation and the leathery look and feel of their skin. Unfortunately, more and more we are seen these people come up with multiple occurrences of skin cancers, some of them fatal. Me, I’d rather have healthy skin, no matter the trend. From tanning lotions to aluminum foil reflectors, people will go to great lengths to achieve that sun-kissed, bronzed look. But as desirable as it may appear, tanning can have dangerous consequences. Tanning is the skin’s reaction to ultraviolet radiations or UV rays. As a result of the UV exposure, cells called melanocytes are stimulated to produce the brown pigment called melanin. Melanin is your skin’s natural defense against harmful sun damage and it is the same pigment responsible for our skin color and for the classic tanned look. There are three kinds of ultraviolet radiations:
UVAUVA radiations, with the longest wavelengths, penetrate the skin the deepest and are the major cause of wrinkles and premature aging of the skin. Tanning beds are known to produce UVA rays 5 times higher than the intensity of the sun.
UVBUVB rays are 1,000 times stronger than UVA rays and the main cause of sunburns. With shorter wavelengths than UVA rays, UVB rays affect the epidermis causing sunburns, brown spots and melanoma, a.k.a skin cancer. UVB rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
UVCUVC radiations are the strongest and most dangerous for of ultraviolet radiations. Fortunately they are filtered by the atmosphere and do not reach the earth’s surface. There is no safe form of tanning utilizing UV radiation. Whether the source is the sun, tanning bed or sun lamps, the damaging result is the same.
HARMFUL CONSEQUENCES OF TANNING
Wrinkles & Sagging Skin
UV radiations damage the collagen fibers present in the skin cells. Collagen is the protein responsible for the tightness and firmness of the skin. Damaged or improper collagen formation leads to premature aging of the skin.Sunburn
Sunburn is the result of prolonged exposure to UV rays. UV radiations can destroy cells present in the outermost layer of the skin, also damaging the tiny blood vessels present underneath.Solar Lentigines
Lentigine is another common sign of sun damage is the appearance of liver spots or brown spots on the face, hands, arms and other exposed body parts. This is mainly due to increased melanin production that results from UV exposure.
Melanoma, the deadliest and most common form of skin cancer is primarily related to the long-term effects of tanning. UV rays penetrate deep into the skin and damage the DNA of the skin cells. These cells cannot repair themselves and start mutating, thus increasing the chances of developing skin cancer.
Although UVB radiation has not been linked to macular degeneration or cataracts, UVA and HEV (high energy visible) radiations have. Look for sunglasses that block 100 percent of UV rays and that it also absorbs most HEV rays. Your optician can help you choose the best sunglass lenses for your needs. The same rules apply to children. In fact, experts say as much as 80 percent of our lifetime exposure to UV rays occurs by age 18. For more information on how to protect your eyes, go to www.allaboutvision.com/sunglasses/spf.htm
- Sunscreen provides protection against tanning and sun damage by filtering out certain UV radiations and preventing them from penetrating the skin;
- Sunblock completely blocks UV rays, keeping them from reaching the skin;
- Sunscreen is lighter tin texture and is water-soluble, whereas a sunblock is a thick, water resistant paste, not easily washed away.
- Sunscreen products absorb the sun’s rays, while sunblock products reflect them and offer powerful protection against UVA and UVB radiations
SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and it means the amount of sun protection a particular product offers. A product with SPF 15 will protect you from sun damage for up to 150 minutes, if you normally suffer from sun burn in 10 minutes without any protection.
Understanding the proper use of sunscreens and or sunblocks is crucial. As a matter of fact, there have been more reported cases of skin cancer since the advent of sunscreens due to the fact that people think that if apply their sunscreen in the morning, they are good for the rest of the day. Sun protection needs to be reapplied after swimming or intense sweating. Besides, the chemicals on our skin break down the active ingredients of sunscreens and sunblocks.
The Skin Cancer Foundation states that “to date, no criteria exist in the U.S. for measuring and labeling the amount of UVA defense a sunscreen provides. However, the FDA plans to introduce UVA standards within the next few years.” This means that we can only hope that the product we buy provides the protection they say they do.
According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, when those standards are in implemented, “The FDA would demand that manufacturers assess the sunscreen’s ability to screen out UVA with a series of tests, then the FDA would assign the sunscreen a 1 to 4 star rating, with 1 star indicating the lowest and 4 the highest amount of UVA protection. Manufacturers whose products did not meet the minimum requirements would have to label their products “No UVA protection.” For more information, go to http://www.skincancer.org
Keep in mind that the sun is good for you; it promotes the healthy thickening of the skin, melanin production for protection and the vital synthesis of vitamin D. What is bad for you is the overexposure to UV radiation, which is also emitted by television sets, computer screens and fluorescent light. So the use of sunscreen has got to be a part of your everyday life, even if you stay indoors all day long.
Clark, Ellen – Founder of Control
Skin Care Foundation
All About Vision Website
Sun Precautions Website