Many of us have come across people who wear long sleeves; carry sunscreen lotions and lots more just to avoid contact with direct sunlight. Meanwhile, we have also seen people who rack up on beaches for getting their skin tanned! Bit confusing, right?
The kinship between sun and skin is quite perplexing. The sun, a fascinating star we all love for brightening our days can sometimes become a threat to our skin. The Sun is an ally when it contributes to our well-being and benefits our skin. At the contrary, it can impose dreadful effects over the healthy skin.
The Bright Side
The exposure to sunlight helps our body to produce Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential as it helps in the absorption of calcium and other minerals. Vitamin D also helps in the prevention of rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. A moderate exposure to the sun is thus encouraged.
The right balance of the sun rays can have lots of mood-lifting benefits. Sunlight helps to trigger the release of a hormone called as ‘serotonin’ in the brain. This hormone is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused.
Without enough serotonin, a person’s serotonin levels can dip lower. This leads to a condition known as ‘seasonal affective disorder (SAD)’; which is a form of depression.
The Dark side
The rays of the sun are more direct during the day time, especially afternoon. A person is more likely to get a sunburn during this time. The pervasion of Ultra Violet radiation in sun rays is one of the reasons that we must be careful while stepping out in sunlight. Over exposure to the sun could result in varying effects:
Short term effects: Exposure to UV radiation may result in developing freckles and rashes. Short term effects also include reddening and pain. In severe cases, it may also cause blistering and even second-degree burns.
Long term effects: Overexposure of sunlight may eventually lead to premature skin ageing and make the skin look dry, wrinkled, loose and causing pigment changes commonly known as ‘age spots'. Severe conditions may even lead to skin cancer.
The epidermis of our skin contains specialist cells called melanocytes. They produce a dark pigment known as ‘melanin’ which gives our skin protection from burning. This response of the melanocytes in the response to trauma from UV appears as a ‘tan’.
There are a lot of myths going around that tanning the skin protects the skin permanently. This is not true. Being tan provides no protection from the sun. It causes premature aging of the skin, brown spots as well as wrinkles. The use of sunscreens may taper off the effect of sunlight to a limit.
Types of filters vary with different sunscreens, so they must be carefully studied before you use them. The sun rays are able to deteriorate sunscreen as soon as it is applied to the skin, so it is recommended to reapply after every 2 hours, no matter the protection index is.