Effects of Sun Tanning
Some Things You Should Know
Tanning is BAD, indoors as well as outdoors. Everyone should be aware of the dangers from overexposure to the sun’s direct rays. Drying. Wrinkling. Blemishing. Skin cancers. The World Health Organization has now declared indoor tanning devices to be cancer-causing agents, too, in the same category as tobacco. Studies have found a 75 percent increase in the risk of melanoma in those who have been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning.
The sun is not your skin’s warm and welcoming friend. True, many people love the warm sun and its rays make us feel good. Ironically, some feel a deep suntan also makes us look good.
And as for that "healthy" tan, the skin color obtained from being in the sun increases the risk for developing skin cancer.
And rapid aging. Over time, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light damages the elastin fibers in the skin. When these fibers break down, the skin begins to sag, stretch, and lose its ability to go back into place after stretching. The skin also bruises and tears more easily, and takes longer to heal.
Exposure to the sun causes:
- pre-cancerous (actinic keratosis) and cancerous (basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma) skin lesions, caused by loss of the skin’s immune function
- benign tumors
- fine and coarse wrinkles
- discolored areas of the skin, called mottled pigmentation;
- sallowness—a yellow discoloration of the skin;
- telangiectasias—the dilation of small blood vessels under the skin;
- elastosis—the destruction of the elastic tissue causing lines and wrinkles.
Does that sound like a friend?
Although anyone can get skin cancer, the risk is greatest for people who have fair or freckled skin that burns easily, light eyes and blond or red hair. Darker-skinned individuals are also susceptible to all types of skin cancer, although their risk is substantially lower.
Other risk factors include family history, outdoor job and living in a sunny climate. A history of severe sunburns and an abundance of large and irregularly-shaped moles are risk factors unique to melanoma.
You can have fun in the sun and still decrease your risk of skin cancer.
Here’s how to be "sun-smart":
- Generously apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or more to all exposed skin. "Broad-spectrum" provides protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Reapply approximately every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.
- Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses, where possible.
- Avoid direct sun exposure as much as possible during peak UV radiation hours between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. During those peak hours, seek shade. Here’s a tip: Get in the shade whenever your shadow appears to be shorter than you are.
- Select cosmetic products and contact lenses that offer UV protection.
- Wear sunglasses with total UV protection.
- Protect children from sun exposure. Be sure to play in the shade, use protective clothing, and apply sunscreen. Eighty percent of a person’s lifetime sun exposure is acquired before age 18.
- Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand because they reflect and intensify the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chances of sunburn.