Long Lasting Effects of Sunburn
Although the act of tanning in order to achieve a golden glow is deemed by most cultures as a way to promote the look of healthy skin this act can actually be damaging to your skin. Spending time in the sun and exposing your skin to UV rays can lead to sunburns, however you do not have to actually suffer from a burn to destroy skin cells.
Sun exposure, especially the exposure to UV radiation, causes damage to skin cells and the DNA of the skin. When this damage occurs some cells are able to repair themselves but other cells die. Repeated burning can lead to long lasting damage. The most common long lasting effects of sunburn are the development of skin cancer, immune system suppression, and premature ageing.
Skin CancerMelanoma, also called skin cancer, is one of the fastest growing types of cancer in the world. More people suffer from skin cancer today compared with just ten years ago. The rising occurrence of this serious cancer is in part attributed to repeated sunburns, especially those that occur in early childhood.
Repeated exposure to sun or the suffering of just one severe sunburn can increase your likelihood of developing skin cancer. The three most prevalent types of skin cancer to watch for are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most commonly diagnosed form of skin cancer and is also the most curable when caught early in the disease. This cancer is recognised by the appearance of a small bump or reddish patch on the skin and is most commonly found on the shoulders, scalp, face, and ears. This type of cancer is usually caused from the occurrence of severe sunburns.Squamous cell carcinoma is caused by long-term exposure to the sun and the repeated occurrence of sunburns is not necessary for the development of this disease. This cancer is recognised by the appearance of a scaly, red patch or elevated growth on the skin. Most commonly found on the ears, face, or around the lips this cancer easily spreads to other tissues and can result in death if left untreated.
Malignant melanoma is a type of skin cancer that begins in or near a mole. Known as the deadliest form of skin cancer, this condition needs immediate treatment from a doctor so everyone with a history of sun exposure is urged to check his or her skin regularly for signs of the disease.
Other Long Lasting EffectsAlthough skin cancer is the most serious long lasting effect from sunburn, repeated burning and long-term sun exposure can also lead to other types of permanent damage. Sunburns can lead to changes in the skin and result in skin growths called actinic keratoses. These growths are normally non-cancerous, but if left untreated they can become malignant.
Suppression of the immune system can also be caused by sunburn. When the skin becomes burned the distribution of white blood cells can be adversely affected. When the function of the white blood cells is compromised they are unable to fight off infections as readily. After each sunburn this suppression can last up to 24 hours, however, in the case of repeated burns the suppression can become permanent.
Finally, premature ageing is caused by repeated sun exposure and the occurrence of sunburns. The long lasting effects are seen in the appearance of wrinkles, dark spots on the skin, and skin sagging.
Preventing These Preventable ProblemsThe best way to avoid suffering from the long lasting effects of sunburn is to avoid getting a sunburn altogether. Prevent sunburn by applying an SPF sunscreen with a rating of at least 15 everyday, even if it is cloudy outside. You should also wear sun protective clothing, like long sleeved shirts and hats, whenever possible. By limiting the amount of skin that is exposed to UV rays you can reduce your chances of getting sunburned. Finally, you should limit the time that you spend outside, especially during the peak sunlight hours of the afternoon, and avoid tanning or laying out in the sun for sport.
By taking a few preventive steps now you can greatly reduce your chances of suffering from sunburn induced problems later.