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Sun Tanning: Understanding Its Impact on Your Skin Health

Insights and Considerations

By shanmuga priyaPublished about a month ago 3 min read

Although paces of indoor tanning have been dropping in the US, many individuals try to get a tan outside. As per a National Cancer Institute Interview Survey of data from the 2020 National Health Interview Survey, around 39% of women and 29 percent of men in the US had an open-air tan in the past year.

However while tanned skin may not do any harm or peel like a sunburn, it isn't safe, specialists say. "If your skin could talk, it would say, 'Ooch!' when you get a tan," Dr. Maral Skelsey, a dermatologist at Georgetown University, said.

She said, skin bronzes definitively because it has been harmed — the additional pigmentation is the skin's attempt to safeguard itself from further damage.

Tanning can lead to skin cancer

Burns from the sun have for some time been related to an increased risk of skin cancer, however, tanning increases the risk, as well, said Dr. Patricia Farris, a dermatologist in Metairie, La.

Tans and burns from the sun are caused by exposure to two types of UV rays emitted by the sun. Ultraviolet B rays cause sunburns, and Ultraviolet A rays penetrate deeply and induce tans. The two kinds of UV rays can cause DNA mutation that raises the risk of disease, Dr. Farris said.

"While indoor tanning became vogue, they pushed the story that tanning could be done safely if you don't burn," she said. "Very quickly, dermatologists started seeing increasingly young patients with skin cancer and especially melanoma."

UVA radiation harms the skin in alternate ways, as well, said Dr. Min Deng, a dermatologist with MedStar Health in Chevy Pursue, Md. "There's an entire milieu of molecular consequences," she said. As well as harming the DNA directly, UVA radiation suppresses the immune system in ways that increase the risk of cancer, she said.

It also ages the skin; UVA rays are involved with "breaking down collagen and elastin molecules and causing wrinkles, brown spots, and weathered-looking skin," Dr. Farris said.

And vitamin D?

Although it's important to get sufficient vitamin D — adults ages 19 to 70 ought to expect to get 600 international units (I.U.) of vitamin D each day — individuals often have misconceptions about how best to get it, specialists said.

Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin after exposure to the sun's UVB rays. Most adults with lighter skin can get sufficient vitamin D after spending as long as 10 minutes outside at midday during the spring and summer months, research has found.

Studies also suggest that sunscreen doesn't altogether impair the body's ability to make vitamin D from sunlight exposure, Dr. Farris said.

If you have darker skin, your body will be unable to synthesize as much vitamin D from sunlight, so it's more secure to get it from food varieties like salmon, egg yolks, fortified milk, as well as supplements, Dr. Skelsey said.

Older adults experience more difficulty synthesizing vitamin D compared with younger people, Dr. Skelsey said. So the older you are, the more you will need to consider eating vitamin D-rich food varieties or taking supplements, she said.

The most effective method to remain protected from the sun

To best protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays, use a sunscreen that is marked "broad spectrum," Dr. Skelsey said; the American Academy of Dermatology suggests SPF 30.

For individuals with more dark complexions, Dr. Deng advises using tinted mineral sunscreens because the iron oxide they contain protects the skin from different wavelengths of light that can add to hyperpigmentation and other disorders common with darker skin.

"Patients with deeper skin tones can in any case get sunburns and develop skin cancers," Dr. Deng said.

The vast majority woefully under-apply sunscreen, Dr. Deng said. "They just apply about a fourth of the thickness that they should apply," she said.

To get proper coverage, apply one ounce, or a shot glass worth, of sunscreen over all exposed skin. In the case of using a spray, she recommended spraying just a couple of inches from the skin and then rubbing it in with your hands.

The vast majority don't reapply sunscreen nearly as much as they should, Dr. Deng said. If you're swimming, getting splashed with water, or sweating, you ought to reapply every hour, even if it's a waterproof sunscreen, she said. If you're not getting wet, you ought to reapply every two hours.

The A.A.D. likewise suggests sun-protective clothing with its UPF, or UV protection factor, on the name. "Sun protective clothing, hats, beach umbrellas, sunglasses, tinted car windows, are useful," Dr. Skelsey said.

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About the Creator

shanmuga priya

I am passionate about writing.

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  • Esala Gunathilakeabout a month ago

    This is great for my girlfriend!

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