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Why sun rays don't burn our skin?

Why sun rays don't burn our skin?


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Can you explain (or direct me to a link) the process by which a photon of $8.10^{14}$ Hz is absorbed by the skin without damage, whilst a slightly more energetic one (UVB) makes damage?

What area of skin is necessary to absorb one single photon? How many photons of visibile light per $mathrm{cm^2}$ are required in order to produce burns to the skin?


The reason that UV light causes sunburn, while normal light does not, is not founded in the energy carried by single photon. As stated on wikipedia:

Importantly, both sunburn and the increase in melanin production are triggered by direct DNA damage. When the skin cells' DNA is overly damaged by UV radiation, type I cell-death is triggered and the skin is replaced

The UV light can cause reactions in the DNA of the skin cells that directly damages the DNA. A low amount of this damage can usually be repaired by the cells, but a lot of DNA damage will lead the cells to die and cause inflammation reactions in the skin (the sum of which is then what we experience as sunburn). [Here is a citation also explaining this, the paper is behind a paywall though].

What area of skin is necessary to absorb one single photon? How many photons of visibile light per cm2 are required in order to produce burns to the skin?

A single UV photon has no measurable size and can therefore in principle be absorbed by any arbitrarily small patch of skin. In practice only those photons that interact with the DNA in your skin cells are relevant for sunburn (that will be a very small fraction of all UV photons). Additionally the melanin in your skin will also absorb photons and therefore protect the DNA from the UV radiation, which is why people with darker skin get sunburn less easily. This also means that the amount of radiation/skin area required to cause sunburn varies from person to person and can be influenced by the ability of your skin cells to repair the induced DNA damage.


Proteins and DNA absorb light in the UV spectrum (both UVA and UVB) because that is the energy level at which pi electrons in the aromatic rings get excited (nucleotides and aromatic amino acids have that), so exposure to UV will cause direct damage to our biomolecules causing an inflammatory response and even cell death. Also, different chemical modifications may occur at the DNA level upon UV irradiation that may result in mutations that accumulating over time can lead to cancer.

However, due to the different wavelength, UVB releases most of their energy on the superficial layers of the skin causing more damage at that level.

What area of skin is necessary to absorb one single photon? How many photons of visible light per cm2cm2 are required in order to produce burns to the skin?

It depends on the skin color! Melanin is the skin pigment responsible for the variation of color in the human skin and it acts as protectant by absorbing and thus shielding UV light (it also has aromatic rings). The more Melanin, the darker is the skin, the more resistant is to sunburn.


Technically- it does cause damage. The difference in wavelengths is utlimately the difference in potential energy that could be conveyed as damage; it just happens to be that the amount of damage visible light can do it less concerning than say ionizing radiation. Visible light, though weak by comparison, has been shown to accelerate the formation of free radicals (which spontaneously form on top layers of skin).


Why Do I Get Chills After Getting Sunburned?

Experiencing flu-like symptoms after a day out on the beach? Though it may seem odd to encounter chills, fever, headache, and even dizziness to accompany sunburn, but it does happen.

However these symptoms are a cause for concern as it suggests that you have something more severe than just plain old sunburn. In fact, if these symptoms persist for longer than a day or two, you’d want to get medical attention as it can point to a more critical underlying condition.

So why exactly do some people experience chills after being sunburned?


UV 1-2

Low exposure. No sun protection needed.

UV 3-5

Moderate exposure. Think about sin protection, especially between 11am-3pm.

UV 6-7

High exposure. Skin protection needed for most skin tones.

UV 8-9+

Very high exposure. Skin protection needed for all skin tones.

Check the UV index forcast for different parts of the UK on the Met Office website.


The risk of cancer

But sometimes these defenses aren't enough, and the damage to the skin caused by UV can lead to skin cancer. UK skin cancer rates have soared over the past decades as foreign travel has become more common and attitudes towards tanning have changed. Staggeringly, a recent study has shown that skin cancer is up to eight times more common today than it was in the early 1980s.

What does this mean as we all keep our fingers crossed for a "BBQ summer"?

While it's true that the intensity of UV is not as high in the UK as in the Mediterranean or other low-latitude holiday destinations, the country is about to enter the months where UV intensity is at its peak.

It's important to bear in mind that it's still possible to be exposed to harmful levels of UV when out and about in the UK, particularly for children or people with fair skin that tends to burn easily or freckle. After months of lockdown, many might be desperate to get out into the sunshine, but it's important not to overdo it and there are safer ways to get a tan.

It can be quite difficult to judge how much UV you're being exposed to, as levels can be quite high even on some cloudy days. One way to protect yourself is to be aware of the UV index, which is a measure of how strong the UV rays are each day.

This will help you know whether you need to use sun protection such as hats, clothes and a broad protection sunscreen of SPF 20 or above, thinking about how long you'll be out for. It's a good idea to take extra care between 11 am and 3 pm when the sun is at its peak.

Taking a few simple precautions means that everyone can enjoy the sun safely when lockdown ends. Now let's just hope this summer has plenty of sunny days to enjoy.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


World's Worst Places To Get A Sunburn (And How To Prevent Them)

Sun can make or break a vacation. Too little and you may as well stay home. Too much and you end up splotchy and peeling for weeks. In fact, sunburns are on the rise in the U.S. At first glance, that may seem like nothing more than a reason to break out the aloe vera gel. But it's a trend that has doctors concerned, since even one bad burn can double a person's risk of developing melanoma.

Proper protection is key whenever you're outside, but sunburns have a particular way of inviting themselves along on vacation. Factors like altitude, latitude and the reflective nature of snow, sand and water can turn a mild burn into a serious case of lobster skin. Here are 10 destinations where you'll need to take extra care and just as many ways to protect yourself from the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation.

Destination: Hawaii (Risk: Beach)
Sun and sand are the perfect couple, right? But beware: When you come between them, you're at high risk of getting burned. That's because sand reflects 25 percent of the sun's rays, giving unsuspecting beachgoers an extra dose of UV exposure. Hawaii is world famous for its beaches and notorious for its sunburns. Coincidence? No way.

Skin-Saving Advice: Wear sunscreen the right way. That means wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen (one that blocks both UVA and UVB rays) of at least SPF 30. Use a minimum of an ounce (enough to fill a shot glass). According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), most people only apply 25 to 50 percent of the recommended amount. The AAD suggests applying sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes before going outdoors and reapplying every two hours, or after swimming or sweating. The Environmental Working Group's sunscreen guide tells you what to look for and what to avoid.

Destination: Australia (Risk: Ozone Hole)
The Earth is 4.5 billion years old, so how does it maintain its fresh and vibrant complexion? Stratospheric ozone. The ozone layer acts as Earth's sunscreen, filtering harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun. However, in areas where the ozone layer is compromised, more UV rays hit the Earth, which means more skin damage from sun exposure. With its proximity to the South Pole's seasonal "ozone hole," Australia is the skin cancer capital of the world. And permanent sun damage is a souvenir we can live without.

Skin-Saving Advice: Clothing protects against the sun's harmful rays. While all fabrics filter some ultraviolet radiation, a typical cotton T-shirt offers only minimal protection. However, clothing designed with sun safety in mind carries an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating ranging from 15 (good) to 50+ (excellent). Shirts, pants and hats engineered to protect against UVA and UVB rays are particularly important for the sun-sensitive, children and travelers in destinations where the sun is strongest. REI's website has a useful primer on UPF clothing.

Destination: Colorado (Risk: High Altitude)
Like any doting parent, we're sure Daedalus told Icarus to wear his sunscreen, since skin burns more quickly at high elevations. Ultraviolet exposure increases somewhere between four and 10 percent for every 1,000 feet above sea level. So at an altitude of 9,000 feet, UV radiation can be nearly 50 percent more intense than at sea level. That's math you'll want to remember next time you're in Colorado: A stop in the mile-high city means you're that much closer to the sun. Head into the Rockies and you'll be soaring even higher.

Skin-Saving Advice: Altitude is a major factor in exposure to ultraviolet radiation, but it's certainly not the only thing to take into account. Ozone thinning, seasonal variations and weather changes all impact the amount of harmful UV rays that reach Earth. The National Weather Service publishes a UV index that predicts levels of solar UV radiation for the next day. You can also see monthly averages by city and get information about how to protect yourself based on the predicted UV score.

Destination: Boracay, Philippines (Risk: Low Latitude)
It's like the equator really wants you to get a sunburn. Destinations in tropical latitudes virtually insist that you throw on a bathing suit, take a leisurely swim in the warm water, then settle in for some sunny relaxation -- before drifting off and waking up crispy. Near the equator, the sun's rays don't have to travel as far as they do in more northern latitudes to reach the ground, so they deliver more sun-burning UV rays per minute of exposure. The tiny island of Boracay has some of the world's most beautiful beaches. And at 11 degrees north of the equator, the TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice 2012 Winner is squarely in the tropical burn zone.

Skin-Saving Advice: Sunscreen is a must, but scientists are discovering that certain foods can also help shield against sun damage those that are loaded with antioxidants seem to be particularly adept at helping to protect skin against sunburns and long-term sun damage. Lycopene-rich tomatoes, foods like grapefruit and dark chocolate that are high in flavonoids, polyphenol-packed teas and veggies all offer protective benefits.

Destination: The Caribbean (Risk: Water)
Cool and refreshing, water seems like the antidote to sunburn. But its reflectiveness can increase UV intensity by up to 50 percent, leading to both a painful burn and long-term skin damage. In shallow water, the sun's rays can even reflect off the ocean's sandy bottom, further increasing UV exposure. Each year, the 7,000 island of the Caribbean welcome about 23 million people. Exploring the islands means diving, boating, swimming, and snorkeling -- all activities best done in water, the sun's magnifying glass. Plan accordingly.

Skin-Saving Advice: Being in and out of the water all day amounts to a constant loop of sunscreen reapplication. Factor in the recommendation to apply sunscreen to dry skin and wait 15 to 30 minutes before going back out in the sun and you've got a recipe for failure. A rash guard (a short- or long-sleeved shirt designed for water wear) can be a great way to protect yourself against the sun without constantly reapplying sunscreen. Be sure yours has a UPF rating for maximum sun protection.

Destination: Rome (Risk: Midday Sun)
When you're on vacation, you don't want to waste a minute. But UV rays are at their strongest between noon and 4 p.m., and sunburns are a real risk during the midday hours when the sun dominates the sky. In Rome, many of the most beloved attractions -- from the Colosseum to Aventine Hill -- are sun-drenched, offering little in the way of consistent shade.

Skin-Saving Advice: Between noon and 4 p.m., find indoor or shaded attractions to visit. Museums, religious buildings and galleries are all great midday options. Depending on your destination, you might also consider a leisurely, drawn-out lunch in the shade, whether it's in a piazza or under a palapa. Save outdoor attractions for the morning and evening hours. You'll not only protect yourself against sunburn, but you'll beat the heat and, quite possibly, the biggest crowds.

Destination: Patagonia (Risk: Wind)
Windburn adds insult to injury. While it isn't technically a form of sunburn, windburn looks a lot like sunburn and the two are often experienced together. The condition occurs when a combination of cold wind, dry air and sun strips the face of its natural oils, leading to sore, red and often itchy skin. The wild, barren region of Patagonia, shared by Argentina and Chile, offers extreme natural beauty and cold winds in excess of 60 miles per hour. Consider your face forewarned.

Skin-Saving Advice: Moisture is the key to avoiding windburn. Use (and reapply) both moisturizer and sunscreen before you head out into the wind. Cover your neck in a scarf or turtleneck that can be pulled up to shield part of your face.

Destination: India (Risk: Medications)
The miracle of modern medicine has its side effects and, in many cases, sunburn is one of them. Taking photo-sensitizing drugs including ibuprofen, antihistamines and blood pressure medications can increase the risk of sun damage. The antimalarial antibiotic doxycycline, popular because it is affordable and effective in malaria-affected regions around the world, also heightens sun sensitivity. The drug is one of the most effective ways to protect against malaria in India, where the disease is a concern everywhere except the high mountains.

Skin-Saving Advice: Read the warnings for any medications you'll be bringing along to your destination. Even if you're already taking a medication without a problem, factors such as latitude and elevation can make you more prone to sunburn on vacation. If you are going to be on a medication that increases your chance of sunburn, slather on the sunscreen and use clothing to protect your skin as much as possible.

Destination: Zermatt, Switzerland (Risk: Snow)
Snow is one of the most reflective surfaces out there, bouncing back 80 percent of the sun's rays. That puts skiers and snowboarders in a double burn zone, with damaging ultraviolet rays showering down from above and rebounding from below. It's precisely this scenario that can lead to sunburns in surprising places like your nostrils, neck and chin. Zermatt, at the foot of the famed Matterhorn, offers skiers nearly 250 miles of runs, some of which stay open well into summer -- which means that even in summer, you're not safe from the snowball sunburn effect.

Skin-Saving Advice: Here's a horrifying fact: Eyeballs can get sunburned, too, especially in snow. Since sunscreen in the eyes isn't effective -- and hurts quite a lot besides -- we strongly recommend wearing sunglasses whether you're out in the snow or just enjoying a sunny day. The Skin Cancer Foundation advises people to wear sunglasses that wrap around the face and block as close to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays as possible. As a bonus, sunglasses can help reduce your risk of developing cataracts, and they protect the skin around your eyes from sun exposure, which can help keep eye wrinkles at bay.

Destination: Seattle, WA (Risk: Clouds)
It's not an urban myth: You can get serious sun damage even when it's an overcast day. When the sky is partly cloudy, your risk of sunburn can be even higher than on a clear day because the clouds act to magnify the overall UV radiation. And while a more even cloud cover will block a significant amount of UVB rays (the ones that cause sunburn), up to 80 percent of the long-spectrum UVA rays (the type of radiation that is thought to lead to aging, wrinkling and cancer) can get through clouds and fog. So if you're considering ditching the sunscreen on your next trip to the notoriously overcast Seattle, think again.

Skin-Saving Advice: When you're applying sunscreen, don't neglect those oft-forgotten body parts that get regular exposure to the sun. Ears, lips, necks, scalp and hands all regularly take a UV beating and all are sometimes overlooked by even diligent sunscreen users. They're also some of the most common spots for basal-cell carcinoma, one of the skin cancers associated with excessive exposure to the sun.


What You Can Do

  • Limit time in the midday sun. The sun's rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Limit exposure to the sun during these hours, even in winter and especially at higher altitudes.
  • Do not burn. Sunburns significantly increase the lifetime risk of developing skin cancer, especially for children.
  • Seek shade. Shade is a good source of protection. However, keep in mind that trees, umbrellas and canopies do not offer complete sun protection.
  • Use extra caution near water, snow and sand. These three materials reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn.
  • Avoid sun tanning and tanning beds. UV light from tanning beds and the sun can cause skin cancer and wrinkling.
  • Wear protective clothing. Wide brimmed hats offer good sun protection for your eyes, ears, face and neck. Sunglasses that provide 99 to 100% UVA and UVB protection will greatly reduce eye damage from sun exposure. Tightly woven, loose fitting clothes will provide additional protection from the sun.
  • Always use sunscreen. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or higher on all exposed skin 20 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours, or after working, swimming, playing or exercising outdoors.
  • Watch the UV Index. The UV Index provides important sun safety information to help people plan outdoor activities.

​ Regardless of your exposure to UV rays, conduct a monthly self-check to look for any skin abnormalities. Have a friend or family member check your back and scalp. Look for bumps or sores that don't heal or for moles that have changed size, color or shape. It’s important to visit your physician or a dermatologist for regular skin checks and to have any new or changing mole evaluated. When caught early, most cases of skin cancer can be cured.


Sun and Skin

Our bodies were built to make good use of the sun. Sunlight helps keep our sleeping patterns on track so we can stay awake by day and sleep soundly at night. Getting too little sun, especially in winter months, can leave some people prone to a form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder. Sunlight also helps our skin make vitamin D, which is needed for normal bone function and health. Yet sunlight can also cause damage.

Sunlight travels to Earth as a mixture of both visible and invisible rays, or waves. Long waves, like radio waves, are harmless to people. But shorter waves, like ultraviolet (UV) light, can cause problems. The longest of these UV rays that reach the Earth’s surface are called UVA rays. The shorter ones are called UVB rays.

Too much exposure to UVB rays can lead to sunburn. UVA rays can travel more deeply into the skin than UVB rays, but both can affect your skin’s health. When UV rays enter skin cells, they upset delicate processes that affect the skin’s growth and appearance.

Over time, exposure to these rays can make the skin less elastic. Skin may even become thickened and leathery, wrinkled, or thinned like tissue paper. “The more sun exposure you have, the earlier your skin ages,” says Dr. Barnett S. Kramer, a cancer prevention expert at NIH.

Your skin does have ways to prevent or repair such damage. The outermost layer of skin constantly sheds dead skin cells and replaces them. You might have noticed this type of skin repair if you’ve ever had a bad sunburn. Your skin may peel, but it usually looks normal in a week or 2.

“When you’re exposed to ultraviolet radiation, there’s a repair process that goes on constantly in each one of your exposed cells,” says Dr. Stephen I. Katz, director of NIH’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Still, long-term damage to your skin can remain.

As you get older, it becomes harder for skin to repair itself. Over time, UV damage can take a toll on your skin and its underlying connective tissue. As a result, your skin may develop more wrinkles and lines.

Too much sun exposure can also raise your risk for skin cancer, the most common type of cancer in the United States. When UV light enters skin cells, it can harm the genetic material (called DNA) within.

DNA damage can cause changes to cells that make them rapidly grow and divide. This growth can lead to clumps of extra cells called a tumor, or lesion. These may be cancerous (malignant) or harmless (benign).

Skin cancer may first appear as a small spot on the skin. Some cancers reach deep into surrounding tissue. They may also spread from the skin to other organs of the body.

Each year, more than 2 million people are treated for 2 types of skin cancer: basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma. These cancers are seen in both older and younger people, and they’re rarely life-threatening.

Melanoma is a less common but more serious type of skin cancer that’s diagnosed in more than 68,000 Americans each year. Another 48,000 are diagnosed with an early form of the disease that involves only the top layer of skin. Melanomas arise from the cells that provide pigment (color) to the skin.

Your risk for melanoma is higher if members of your family have had skin cancer or if you’ve already had melanoma or other skin cancers. A major risk factor for melanoma is having a large number of moles, or having large flat moles with irregular shapes. Sunburns, especially during childhood, may also raise your risk for melanoma.

“If you’ve had skin cancers in the past, then you’re at a particularly high risk for developing another skin cancer,” Kramer says. “Over the long run, there is a high rate of new lesions developing.”

“One of the major factors affecting skin health is genetics, which determines the pigment content of your skin. This affects how much protection you have from natural sunlight,” explains Katz. Although darker-skinned people have a lower risk for sun-related damage and disease, people of all races and skin color can still get skin cancer.

“Certain genetic mutations contribute to melanoma onset in certain people. You find much less non-melanoma skin cancer in African Americans, people from the Middle East, or even Asians from the Near East,” Katz says.

The best way to protect skin health and prevent skin cancer is to limit sun exposure. Avoid prolonged time in the sun, and choose to be in the shade rather than in direct sunlight. Wear protective clothing and sunglasses, and use sunscreen between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Sunscreen is especially important at that time, when the sun’s rays are most intense.

“The time to really start sun protective behavior is not when you reach adulthood, but years before,” Kramer says. “The message to parents is, now is the time to start protecting your child against skin damage from sun overexposure, when your child is developing sun exposure habits and when they have many more years of potential sun exposure ahead of them.” Among other skin-protecting habits, teach children and teens to avoid the use of tanning beds.

Sunscreens come labeled with a sun protection factor (SPF), such as 15, 30, or 50. A sunscreen labeled SPF 15 means it will take you 15 times as long to get a sunburn as it would if you had no sunscreen on. A sunscreen labeled SPF 30 means it would take you 30 times as long to burn.

The effectiveness of sunscreens is affected by several factors. A sunscreen’s active ingredients can break down over time, so be sure to check the expiration date on the container. The amount of sunscreen you use and how often you use it affects your protection from the sun. Perspiration and time spent in the water can also reduce sunscreen effectiveness.

Some people look to the sun as a source of vitamin D, but it takes just a brief time in the sun to do the trick. “You need very little exposure—something like 10 to 15 minutes a day to the backs of your hands, arms, and face—to get enough,” Katz says.

Several factors—like cloudy days or having dark-colored skin—can reduce the amount of vitamin D your skin makes. But you can also get vitamin D from foods or dietary supplements. Check with your health care provider about whether you should be taking vitamin D supplements.

Limit time in the sun to protect your skin against early wrinkles, damage, and disease. “Being sun smart is a good thing,” Katz says. And if you spot a suspicious mark on your skin, Kramer advises, be sure to get it checked out.


How to Prevent Skin Darkening in the Sun

This article was co-authored by Kimberly Tan. Kimberly Tan is the Founder & CEO of Skin Salvation, an acne clinic in San Francisco. She has been a licensed esthetician for over 15 years and is an expert in mainstream, holistic, and medical ideologies in skin care. She has worked directly under Laura Cooksey of Face Reality Acne Clinic and studied in-person with Dr. James E. Fulton, Co-creator of Retin-a and pioneer of acne research. Her business blends skin treatments, effective products, and education in holistic health and sustainability.

There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

This article has been viewed 215,346 times.

When your skin senses UV rays from the sun, it produces melanin to protect itself, and this causes your skin to get darker. But skin darkening is also a sign of damage to the skin. The only way to prevent your skin from getting darker in the sun is to protect it from the ultraviolet rays that cause tanning, cancer, premature aging, and wrinkles. There are many ways to do this, including protecting your skin with lotions, clothes, and other sun-protective products.


The Science of Beauty

John Sottery, president of IMS, Inc., and a leading sunscreen researcher, offers the following explanation:

Natural sunlight contains, among other things, ultraviolet (UV) photons. These photons are shorter in wavelength and higher in energy than visible light. Because they fall outside the visible spectrum, the human eye cannot perceive them. When it comes to sun exposure, however, what you can't see will hurt you. When these high-energy photons strike your skin, they generate free radicals and can also directly damage your DNA. Over the short term, this UV-induced damage can produce a painful burn over the long term it causes premature aging of the skin, as well as millions of new cases of skin cancer each year.

The UV rays that we are exposed to here on the earth's surface consist of UVB and UVA photons. The shorter wavelength UVB rays don't penetrate deeply into skin they cause significant damage to DNA and are the primary cause of sunburn and skin cancer. The longer wavelength UVA rays penetrate the deeper layers of skin, where they produce free radicals. UVA exposure has been linked to premature aging of the skin and immunologic problems.

A sunscreen product acts like a very thin bulletproof vest, stopping the UV photons before they can reach the skin and inflict damage. It contains organic sunscreen molecules that absorb UV and inorganic pigments that absorb, scatter and reflect UV. To deliver a high level of protection, a sunscreen product must have sufficient quantities of these protective agents and it must optimally deploy them over the skin's peaks and valleys.

The term SPF that appears on sunscreen labels stands for Sun Protection Factor, but it is really a sunburn protection factor. Products with a higher SPF allow fewer of the photons that produce sunburn to strike the skin. In simple terms, you can view an SPF 10 sunscreen as allowing 10 out of every 100 photons to reach the skin and an SPF 20 product as allowing only 5 out of every 100 photons to reach the skin. Because sunburn is primarily a UVB effect, it is possible for a sunscreen product to deliver high SPF while allowing a significant percentage of the incident UVA photons to reach the skin. To deliver true broad spectrum protection, products must also block a significant fraction of the UVA photons. In the U.S. market, this requires that the products contain significant levels of zinc oxide, avobenzone or titanium dioxide.

In the case of tanning beds, the UV output differs from bed to bed, but it generally contains less UVB and significantly more UVA than does natural sunlight. This leads to less sunburn and more tanning. In the long term, however, the UVA rays take their toll on skin. Thus, tanning beds do not represent a safe tanning option.


What happens when you get a sunburn

When the sun reaches the skin, it damages the skin cells and causes mutations that can eventually lead to melanoma and other types of skin cancer.

BY Kellie Bramlet Blackburn

A sunburn is not the same as when you burn your skin on something hot.

“When we think of a burn, we think of heat. But it’s not the sun’s heat that burns our skin,” says Saira George, M.D., an MD Anderson Cancer Center dermatologist.

“Sunburns are from ultraviolet radiation – or UV rays – causing damage to the skin,” George says.

How your skin changes during a sunburn

When ultraviolet radiation from the sun reaches the skin, it damages the skin cells and causes mutations in their DNA.

“Our bodies have a lot of amazing mechanisms to prevent and even correct these mutations,” George says. “But if the skin cells get more UV exposure than they can handle, the damage may be beyond repair, and the cells die off. Blood vessels dilate to increase blood flow and bring immune cells to the skin to help clean up the mess. All this causes the redness, swelling and inflammation we associate with a sunburn.”

The sunburn will eventually heal, but some of the surviving cells will have mutations that escape repair. These cells could eventually become cancerous.

Can you reverse sun damage?

Some beauty products claim they can reverse sun damage or even stimulate cell repair. But no research has shown that any topical skin care product or lotion can reverse sun damage.

“There’s no simple way to undo sun damage yet,” George says. “But there are lots of simple ways to prevent it by being sun-safe and avoiding sunburns.”

There’s no simple way to undo sun damage yet. But there are lots of simple ways to prevent it by being sun-safe and avoiding sunburns.


Follow these sun safety tips

Follow these tips to protect your skin from the sun and lower your cancer risk.


Watch the video: Τα άτομα με λεύκη είναι πιο ευάλωτα στα ηλιακά εγκαύματα (June 2022).


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