The effect of sun exposure on our skin and organism

Posted by Elisa Ansar on

The effect of sun exposure on our skin and organism

The sun is of vital importance to every single living being on Earth. Over time, the habits of exposing oneself to the sun have changed significantly. Whether due to beauty standards that promote tanned skin as "healthy skin," or due to the different rhythms of life that have gradually evolved to include a range of effects from sun exposure.

When talking about the "effects of the sun", usually only the negative effects are mentioned, which, although they represent a large part and can have irreversible consequences on the skin, are not the only ones.

In humans, the sun plays a fundamental role in life and provides numerous benefits, such as controlling and regulating the circadian rhythm or body clock, which contributes to better habits in regulating and maintaining the sleep cycle. It also promotes the synthesis of vitamin D, which favors bone development, can improve skin diseases and even has an antidepressant effect, positively affecting the mood of the person, creating a sense of general well-being.

It does not only have benefits for humans, however, but also negative effects on the skin which can be observed with prolonged exposure to the rays.



Why is prolonged exposure to the sun harmful?

There are different types of solar radiation, all of which penetrate the skin in different ways, so each type of radiation affects the skin in a particular way. Consequently, the benefit or harm to the skindepends on the type of radiation to which it is exposed and also on the duration of exposure.

Ultraviolet Radiation (UV)

It causes most of the problems caused by excessive sun exposure. A distinction can be made between UVC, UVB and UVA rays.

  • UVC radiation:Due to its high intensity, it is the most harmful and dangerous radiation, which usually does not reach the earth completely, thanks to the ozone layer, which intercepts and filters these rays.
  • UVB radiation: UVB rays are largely filtered by the ozone layer, but the current depletion of the ozone layer poses an eminent threat, as this type of radiation can reach the Earth more quickly and directly, and is the main cause of sunburn and tanning in short-term exposure. With long-term exposure, it is the cause of premature skin aging, burns and the development of skin cancer.
  • UVA radiation:It almost completely penetrates the ozone layer, with about 95% hitting the earth directly. When exposed heavily, it causes redness and mild burns. It is also responsible for hyperpigmentation or spots on the skin, skin dryness and deep wrinkles characterized by enlarged pores.

It is important to know that the type of radiation is not the only determinant of sun damage to the skin. The intensity of sun exposure also depends directly on factors such as:

  • Height: With the height above the earth's surface, the intensity of radiation increases by 20% per 1000 meters of height.
  • . The season: In summer, the sun's rays arrive more directly than in winter. Nevertheless, even in autumn and especially in spring, there are already risks of acquiring skin damage from sun exposure. Also, the ski vacation in winter often brings sunburns on the face as a side effect.
  • Time of sun exposure:The highest risk of sunburn is during the hours when the sun hits the earth perpendicularly, i.e. at midday, while the safest times for sun exposure are in the morning and at dusk.

An important factor in assessing sun damage to the skin is the susceptibility and degree of tolerance, both of which are specific to each person exposed to sunlight, allowing the different skin types to classify different skin phototypes.

Thanks to these skin phototypes, it is possible to indicate the limit of skin tolerance to UV radiation depending on the different characteristics of each skin type.

What are the different skin phototypes?

Phototype I

Sensitive skin, reddens and burns very easily. Usually corresponds to red hair and fair skin, light eyes and freckles.

Phototype II

White skin with blue or brown eyes and blond or in some cases brown hair.

Burns easily, tans easily instead of reddening.

Phototype III

Light skin, brown hair and eyes. They tan easily and gradually and almost never have major burns.

Phototype IV

Mediterranean skin with dark eyes and hair. Highly pigmented, almost never burns.

Phototype V

Dark skin with dark eyes and hair. They rarely burn and their tan is quick and lasting. This photo type is prevalent in people of Indian and Asian descent.

Phototype VI

Black skin, dark eyes and dark hair. This skin type does not darken in the sun and it is quite difficult to get a severe sunburn.

What are the consequences of excessive sun exposure?

The most rapidly observed damage to the skin is sunburn, which results from intense sun exposure that, in order to cause burns, is stronger than is appropriate for the skin type.

Radiation creates a kind of attack against the skin, to which the skin responds with a defense mechanism, namely the production and oxidation of melanin, the pigment that gives the skin its tanned color.

If you continue to expose yourself to the sun, a point is reached where the skin is no longer able to produce this protective mechanism. The area then burns, reddens, swells and can even blister.

But burns are not the only consequence of sun exposure. It can also cause other consequential damage:

  • . Prior skin aging: also known as photoaging. It is characterized by the appearance of thick and deep wrinkles, especially on the face, neck and neck area, as well as dry, rough and inelastic skin. It is estimated that about 75% of wrinkles are caused by prolonged exposure to the sun.
  • Eye damage:Intense sun exposure can damage eye tissue. The most common damage is burns to the outer layer of the eye, the cornea, which can cloud vision and, if not treated in time, lead to cataracts. If cataracts are not treated quickly and properly, they can lead to blindness.
  • Weakened immune system:When the skin is burned, the immune system must work at full speed to produce new cells and replace those that have been damaged. With regular burns from sun exposure, the immune system is severely weakened, which makes our organism more susceptible to disease and infection.

Skin cancer

The most serious consequence of prolonged sun exposure is skin cancer.

Skin cancer comprises a group of tumors that can be caused by a variety of factors, although the largest proportion is caused by exposure to UV radiation. Tumors develop when the balance between the amount of damage to the skin and the skin's ability to repair that damage is disturbed.

Cases of skin cancer are quite common in the over-50 age group because when the skin is constantly exposed to more sunlight than it can tolerate, it burns and then repairs itself. If this process is constantly repeated, the skin reaches a point where it loses the ability to repair itself so effectively that it can more easily develop skin cancer.

Although it usually occurs in people over the age of 50, it is increasingly common in younger people because of their exposure to UV rays for aesthetic purposes, such as tanning, either directly in the sun or on a tanning bed.

How does skin cancer manifest itself?

It can appear in a variety of forms, from a small, pimple-like bump that grows gradually to sores that don't heal properly, including spots that flake off, and moles that can change color, shape, or size.

If you notice any of these signs, you should get checked for early signs of skin cancer right away, because if it's treated at an early stage, it usually has a very good prognosis for healing.

The most common treatment for the various types of skin cancer is surgical removal, which is completely curable in a large percentage of cases. Although this method is the most commonly used, there are other non-surgical treatments, such as topical chemotherapy, immunomodulators, cryotherapy, electrosurgery, photodynamic therapy and other various treatments that are used depending on the type of cancer and the stage it is in.

What are the different types of skin cancer?

There are glarge numbers of skin cancersbut more than 90% can be divided into non-melanoma skin cancers and melanoma.

  • Non-melanoma skin cancer:This includes the 2 most common skin cancers, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma..
    • Basal cell carcinoma: This is the most common type. It is a tumor that tends to grow slowly and is locally invasive, meaning it can affect vessels, nerves, muscles and even bones, but it rarely spreads.
    • Squamous cell carcinoma:This is the second most commonly observed type of skin cancer. It ranges from extremely superficial forms with a very good prognosis to invasive forms that cause local invasion and can reach lymph nodes and visceral metastases.

  • Melanoma: is the most aggressive skin cancer, but is less common compared to the other two. If the disease is diagnosed at an early stage, the chances are over 95%. However, if the tumor is not diagnosed at an early stage, there is a high probability that it has already penetrated into the deeper layers of the skin due to the long growth time and has metastasized there.

How can sun-related skin damage be prevented?

The measures to prevent injuries that can be caused by the sun on the skin cover a fairly wide range. They include several recommendations that, if followed properly, can help prevent everything from superficial burns to skin cancer, helping to maintain healthy skin.

The most important measure to protect against sun exposure is to avoid the sun during the central hours of the day, which is between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

  • Suitable clothing:It is very important that you wear suitable clothing when you are exposed to the sun. It is recommended to wear dense fabrics that cover as much skin as possible. It is also advisable to wear wide-brimmed hats or caps to cover the skin of your face, as well as sunglasses to protect the area around your eyes as much as possible.
  • Use of sunshades:This measure helps partially to avoid the sun's rays, as it protects from the rays that fall vertically, but it does not protect from the diffuse light that comes from the reflection of the sun's rays on surfaces such as water, asphalt or grass. So although sunshades do not provide complete protection, they are a good option to avoid direct contact with ultraviolet radiation.
  • Use of sunscreens: Sunscreens work by reflecting the sun's rays onto the skin. Although they are usually found in the form of creams, there are also lotions, gels, sprays, lip balms, and even some makeup products, such as foundation, now contain some SPF. However, truly reliable protection is achieved through designated sunscreens. Often, the sun protection factor in foundations is not enough to protect yourself sufficiently on the beach or on a boat trip.

The sun protection factor

The sun protection factor is a number that indicates how long the skin can be exposed to the sun without getting sunburned. The higher the SPF, the higher the protection from the sun's rays. It is usually written on the product packaging and should be chosen according to the skin phototype. The lower the skin phototype, the higher thesun protection factor(SPF).
By using these products, the negative effects of the sun on the skin can be greatly reduced. It is also important to follow the application instructions on the product packaging and apply sunscreen to the skin in a timely manner and regularly when exposed to the sun.

If the sun's rays have already damaged the skin, how can they be combated?

There is a wide range of products that can be used to reduce the effects of the sun on the skin. For example, it is important to use sunscreen even if the skin is already damaged, because this prevents the damage from developing negatively.

Because excessive sun exposure causes dry and rough skin that contributes to wrinkles,for example,the Hydrating Serumfrom CRAFT & CARE is an ideal product to restore the vitality of the skin. The moisturizing water-based serum, has an antimicrobial effect, provides intense hydration and also strengthens the protective barrier of the skin. The skin looks healthier and fresher and wrinkles can be mitigated in the long term.

At CRAFT & CARE we have a wide range of oils that can help improve the effects of UV rays on the skin. Particularly noteworthy is Organic Almond Oil, which has a great effect on the injuries caused by the sun to the skin, relieves dryness caused by burns, stimulates cell regeneration, slightly reduces hyperpigmentation of the skin, unifies its tone and additionally provides luminosity and brightness. It also helps to slightly reduce the scars caused by burns in some cases.

For skin affected by premature aging, we at CRAFT & CARE have an ideal oil to improve its appearance. The organic night oil is ideal to apply to the skin of the face, neck and décolleté, which are usually the most affected by premature aging, It has a great cell regenerating effect, has an antioxidant effect, as it contains vitamin A, vitamin E, carotenoids and other substances. It can be supportive in mitigating expression lines and spots caused by hyperpigmentation, and provides a lot of moisture, making the skin elastic and supple.

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