Sun’s harmful effects

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People who have a pronounced bronze, often considers that they have a healthy glow. While sun exposure may help relieve some symptoms of certain diseases such as arthritis and asthma, the dangers of excessive exposure to sunlight may outweigh the benefits.

Sunlight can not only make a person look older, but it may even be life threatening. Still, life on earth could not exist without heat and no light provided by the sun.


1. Overview
2. Positive and negative effects of sun exposure
3. Sun tolerance level of a person
4. Sunlight exposure’s harmful effects
5. Aging
6. Cancer
7. Signs of sun damage
8. Protection against the harmful effects of the sun
9. Cover your skin
10. Natural remedies

Positive and negative effects of sun exposure

Although the sun may have a positive influence on the health of people, it could also cause some negative effects. A beneficial aspect of exposure to sun is the sun helps the body to produce vitamin D – a nutrient that supports healthy development of bones and a strong immune system.

In general, for intake of vitamin D, 10-15 minutes of sun exposure twice every week (without sunscreen) are sufficient, but overexposure to sun can be harmful. Invisible rays of the sun called ultraviolet or UV can damage the skin and eyes.

Two types of ultra violet rays UVA and UVB rays can be harmful to skin. The sun’s ultraviolet rays are stronger at higher altitudes and where the climate is warm all year, but also during the summer between 10 am and 4 pm.

UV rays can cause sunburn and skin damage even on cloudy days but also when reflected in the sand, water, snow and cement. In addition to that, even lamps for tanning equipment, from harmful ultraviolet rays.

Sun exposure is cumulative, meaning that gather sun damage over time. The more a person stays for a long time in the sun, the greater the risk of skin to deteriorate and result in a higher risk of developing skin cancer.

Sun exposure is very common, especially during childhood. Sun exposure has both long-term and short-term effects. The most common among short-term effects of sun exposure are sunbathing, sunburn, freckles and increased portions of discolored skin.

The long-term effects of sun exposure are wrinkles, premature aging of skin and different types of skin cancer. It is important that people protect themselves from exposure to ultraviolet rays of the sun.

Sunscreen applied during childhood and adolescence is one of the best ways you can reduce the risk of developing skin cancer later in life.

Sun tolerance level of a person

Dermatologists use Fitzpatrick classification scale to determine the level of tolerance to sunlight of a person depending on skin type.

Fitzpatrick scale classifies skin types I to VI, as follows:

- Type I – very white or freckled skin that will always burn from exposure to sunlight (this is especially common in people with red or blond hair and blue eyes).

- Type II – white skin will burn when exposed to sunlight (often found in people with red or blond hair and blue, green or brown eyes).

- Type III – White or olive skin will burn sometimes after sun exposure.

- Type IV – olive skin, dark, rarely is affected by sun exposure (commonly found in people of Mediterranean origin)

- Type V – dark brown skin, very rarely suffers burns after sun exposure (commonly found in people in the Middle East)

- Type VI skin – black skin, no burns occur from exposure to sunlight.

Sunlight exposure’s harmful effects

The main risk factors are: sunburns, premature skin aging, skin lesions and skin cancer due to exposure to UV rays. Over 90% of skin cancers are caused by sun exposure.

Using tanning bed and tanning increases the risk of skin damage and skin cancer. These physical characteristics may increase possibility of sunburn, skin damage and skin cancer:

- Red or blond hair
- Blue or green eyes
- White skin
- Freckles
- Moles (nevi).

The risk of skin damage and triggering skin cancer is especially high in people with light skin. However, even those who have darker skin should protect their skin from sun and reduce exposure to UV rays to prevent skin damage and skin cancer.

Intense sun exposure duration is associated with increased risk of skin cancer and often is higher in men and in older people. Certain medications (antibiotics, antidepressants, drugs to treat acne) can increase sensitivity to sunlight.

Patients should talk to their doctor about medicines that can make skin more sensitive to sunlight. If there is a family person with skin cancer, increases the risk of disease in adults but also in children. It is important that everyone check their skin constantly to see if there are some significant changes (asymmetrical moles, sores that do not heal normally).


Due to excessive exposure to sunlight, a person can look older. Sunlight change skin texture and elasticity, while its firmness will be diminished.

Most people who work daily in sunlight may look 10-20 years older. This is not an immediately but a cumulative effect that will worsen over time.


One of the most devastating effects of sunlight on the skin is skin cancer developing. Squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma and melanoma skin cancers are caused by ultraviolet rays.

Squamous cell carcinoma is characterized by the presence of bumps covered by a flaky crust occurring in various parts of the body.

Basal cell carcinoma may have a form that does not heal wounds or rounded or flat skin abnormalities. Both squamous cell carcinoma cells and the bazaars have a good chance of healing (95%).
Melanoma is the deadliest form, which causes 80% of deaths from skin cancer. Melanoma takes the form of a large and asymmetric mole.

Signs of sun damage

The first and most obvious symptom of sunburn is skin redness. Other manifestations include pain, stinging, warmth radiating from the skin. Pain and discomfort are often worse, a few hours after sun exposure.

In addition to these, some small vesicles may form, vesicles that may not be visible and could lead to peeling skin days after exposure. Severe sunburn can cause large blisters. Patients should not open or break these vesicles, considering that this could increase the risk of infection.

Other less common symptoms of sunburn include abdominal cramps, weakness, flu-like symptoms, fever, chills, headaches and rapid pulse.

These can be signs of heat stress or stroke caused by the heat. Infection is a complication of severe sunburn that require immediate medical treatment. Signs of infection include sharp redness, fever or skin odor.

Other events that require immediate treatment in a child with sunburn include:
- confusion
- fainting
- headache
- nausea
- severe blistering
- severe pain
- vomiting.

Protection against the harmful effects of sun

The best way to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer and to prevent premature aging of the skin and sunburn lesions is to protect the skin from harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun.

The following tips can help limit the unpleasant consequences of ultraviolet rays:
- Looking for shade
- During the summer months, limit your outdoor activities and deployed them in shady areas, especially during peak hours of sun between 10 am and 4 pm. Soak in the morning and late hours of the afternoon.
- Lean the young children that when the shaded places are the most indicated for playing.

Cover your skin

When sunlight is very strong, during peak hours, the best option is to cover your skin as much as possible. For example:

- Wearing sunglasses and a brimmed hat. Choose sunglasses that offer 100% protection.

- Cover your skin as much as you can. Not all materials will protect against UV rays. A good way to test the clothing is to keep the material in the light: if less light gets through the backed, it seems that the protection is good.

- Use an umbrella or parasol.

- Use sunscreen creams.

The following recommendations can be applied to increase the sunscreen efficiency:

- Do not use sunscreen on children under age of 6 months

- Any type of sunscreen product will be tested in advance. Products containing certain substances can cause skin irritation in some people. The day before applying a moisturizer with sunscreen role, will stretch a small amount of cream on the wrist and will see if local irritation or redness occur within 24 hours.

- If you or your baby has sensitive skin, use a sunscreen containing only zinc oxide and / or titanium dioxide as an active ingredient. These sunscreen products can’t penetrate the skin and there are fewer possibilities to cause skin irritation.

- Use sunscreen with SPF (sun protection factor) 15 to 30 because this blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Normally, a person without sunscreen can occur sunburn after 10 minutes of sun exposure, if you use sunscreen with SPF 15 will provide approximately 150 minutes of protection (10×15 minutes = 150 minutes).

- Ask your doctor to recommend a sunscreen with appropriate sun protection factor. Apply sunscreen 20-30 minutes before going to the sun. Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, immediately after leaving the water and after physical activity.

- Choose a lip balm containing sunscreen products in the form of zinc oxide or titanium.

- Check the expiration date of sunscreen.

Natural remedies

Practically, all people are sensitive to a certain extent to sunlight. If you suffer from sunburn, these tips will help minimize the pain and swelling:

- Keep the affected area for 15 minutes in cold water (or cold compresses), but without ice. If burns are very painful take a painkiller such as aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen. Aspirin and ibuprofen will relieve pain and help to reduce inflammation.

- Use lotions with cooling effect. Products containing menthol or camphor can provide temporary relief by the action they have the nerve endings and skin blood vessels constricts. Attention, they can be irritating and can cause allergic reactions especially in children.

- Do not apply fat creams or lotions such as grease or baby oil. These types of products work by keeping heat in the skin.

- Use sprays for burns. If the burn is very painful it is best to use a spray for burns that contains benzocaine, an oral anesthetic that will act on nerve endings in the skin. Attention to its use as it can sensitize the skin and can trigger allergic reactions. Do not use anesthetics for sunburns: they are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream if the skin is cracked and can cause immediate toxic reactions or allergies.

- If your whole body was affected by sunburn you can try an oatmeal bath, which will soothe and reduce inflammation. For this purpose you can grind a cup of oatmeal in a blender or food processor. Spread flakes in a tub of cold water and soak a few minutes. Same effect has cornstarch.



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