Damage from ultraviolet (UV) sunrays can precipitate serious skin issues, particularly as individuals age. But there are precautions that people can take to protect themselves from UV rays or slow the progress of any existing issue that might have been precipitated by this form of sunlight.
Skin and Aging
As people grow older, the body’s protective covering and largest organ is impacted by numerous natural and environmental phenomena. The aging process precipitates several untoward aesthetic changes such as stretching, a greater susceptibility to bruising (due to a growing weakness in smaller blood vessel walls) and loosening (caused by a decline in bodily production of elastin, which is the substance that holds the dermal regions together).
The body’s outer covering is also exposed to numerous external factors. Environmental toxins like airborne pathogens, toxic chemicals and the many allergens people are exposed to can precipitate damage. Additionally, specific lifestyle habits such as smoking and excessive alcohol intake can stimulate processes that cause accelerated aging. Moreover, exposure to stress could result in hormonal imbalances that exert a significantly adverse impact over dermal regions.
Ultraviolet (UV) Rays
UV rays are powerful sunlight emissions that can precipitate cancer and other dermal maladies. Two types of UV rays have the potential to exert negative effects on the body’s outer covering: UVA and UVB rays.
- UVA Rays – Medical professionals opine that excessive or long-term exposure to these natural byproducts can lead to dermal cell damage, as well as DNA alteration to dermal cells. Either occurrence could result in aesthetic issues like wrinkles and sunspots. Additionally, UVA exposure is also linked to the development of various forms of skin cancer.
- UVB Rays – This form of sunlight is more powerful than UVA rays. These natural substances can cause more serious aesthetic problems and are thought to be the underlying cause of many dermal malignancies.
Dermal cancers are typically either basal cell or melanoma. Basal cell malignancies typically do not penetrate deeper bodily tissues and do not spread once formed. That said, such malignancies can occur almost anywhere on the body. Melanomas are quite dangerous and potentially life-threatening ailments that spread into surrounding tissues and may metastasize to other bodily regions.
UV Rays and Aging
Older persons are more susceptible to the dangers of UV rays because their dermal regions have likely experienced the natural aging processes and been exposed to many detrimental environmental factors.
Factors Impacting UV Exposure
It is important to realize that UV rays are deemed unsafe, and even limited exposure could result in dermal challenges later in life. However, those who enjoy the warmth of sunlight or like sunbathing should take several factors into consideration prior to exposing themselves to the sun:
- Time of Day: UV rays are most powerful between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Therefore, sunbathing should be completed either before or after that timeframe.
- Location: UV rays are strongest closer to the equator or tropical regions.
- Season: UV rays are the strongest during the spring and summer months because the sun is closest to the earth during these periods.
- Cloud Cover: In some instances, heavy cloud cover can block a percentage of UV ray power. However, more often than not, the rays can still penetrate through the clouds.
- Surrounding Areas: Many people enjoy sunbathing at beaches or near bodies of water, like lakes or streams. This could present more serious exposure because UV rays often reflect off these surfaces and radiate stronger sunlight.
Protective Measures Individuals Can Employ
Individuals with a family history of cancer or previous instances of malignancy are strongly advised to avoid excessive or prolonged sunlight exposure. However, everyone should exercise necessary precautions if deciding to sunbathe or having to spend extended durations outdoors.
Safeguards include the following:
- Wearing Adequate Protection: Keeping dermal regions covered during daylight hours could provide adequate protection against UV rays.
- Applying Sunscreen: Sunscreen contains protective substances that might shield individuals from excessive UV exposure.
- Avoiding Tanning Salons: Tanning beds do not provide a safe alternative. Many of these facilities utilize equipment that emits UVA rays.