Sun exposure and skin cancer.

Hi guys! Yesterday I worked outdoors and the weather was kind of weird… It was sunny in the morning, but there was a little cold breeze and the sun was not warming the ambience at all, I was wearing just a T-shirt and some trousers… In the evening, it became cloudy, and the breeze became a sometimes strong wind. It rained later, two times. What I mean it’s that weather was not hot at all, but even with that weather, I sunburn in my arms, the back of my neck and my ears in the while I was exposed to the sunlight. How? I wonder, ‘cause the sun was not hot at all, not like summer sun at all… I don’t know, but my skin it’s now all red and it stings and hurts a lot!

This is why I decided to make this post. People always sunbathe without any sunscreen (I didn’t put sunscreen yesterday because sun was not hot, because weather was kind of cold, so I supposed I won’t sunburn, but you see…) and sunlight is very bad for our skin, let’s see:

Many people love the warm sun. The sun's rays make us feel good, and in the short term, make us look good. But our love affair isn't a two way street: Exposure to sun causes most of the wrinkles and age spots on our faces.

We often associate a glowing complexion with good health, but skin color obtained from being in the sun – or in a tanning booth – actually accelerates the effects of aging and increases your risk for developing skin cancer.

Sun exposure causes most of the skin changes that we think of as a normal part of aging. Over time, the sun's ultraviolet (UV) light damages the fibers in the skin called elastin. When these fibers breakdown, the skin begins to sag, stretch, and lose its ability to go back into place after stretching. The skin also bruises and tears more easily -- taking longer to heal. So while sun damage to the skin may not be apparent when you're young, it will definitely show later in life.

The skin undergoes certain changes when exposed to UV light to protect against damage. The epidermis (the skin's uppermost layer) thickens, blocking UV light. The melanocytes (pigment-producing skin cells) make increased amounts of melanin, which darkens the skin, resulting in a tan. Melanin absorbs the energy of UV light and helps prevent the light from damaging skin cells and penetrating deeper into the tissues.

Sensitivity to sunlight varies according to the amount of melanin in the skin. Darker-skinned people have more melanin and therefore greater protection against the sun's harmful effects, although they are still vulnerable to some extent. The amount of melanin present in a person's skin depends on heredity as well as on the amount of recent sun exposure. Some people are able to produce large amounts of melanin in response to UV light, whereas others produce very little. People with albinism are born being able to make little or no melanin at all (I'm on this group of people, I'm so f***ing pale!).

How does the sun change the skin?

Exposure to the sun causes:

  • Pre-cancerous (actinic keratosis) and cancerous (basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma) skin lesions - caused by loss of the skin's immune function
  • Benign tumors
  • Fine and coarse wrinkles
  • Freckles
  • Discolored areas of the skin, called mottled pigmentation;
  • Sallowness -- a yellow discoloration of the skin;
  • Telangiectasias -- the dilation of small blood vessels under the skin;
  • Elastosis -- the destruction of the elastic tissue causing lines and wrinkles.

What causes skin cancer?

Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. This rapid growth results in tumors, which are either benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Basal cell and squamous cell cancers are less serious types and make up 95% of all skin cancers. Also referred to as non-melanoma skin cancers, they are highly curable when treated early. Melanoma, made up of abnormal skin pigment cells called melanocytes, is the most serious form of skin cancer and causes 75% of all skin cancer deaths. Left untreated, it can spread to other organs and is difficult to control.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the number one cause of skin cancer, but UV light from tanning beds is just as harmful. Exposure to sunlight during the winter months puts you at the same risk as exposure during the summertime.

Cumulative sun exposure causes mainly basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer, while episodes of severe sunburns, usually before age 18, can cause melanoma later in life. Other less common causes are repeated X-ray exposure and occupational exposure to certain chemicals.

About the sunscreens.

Sunblock (also commonly known as sun screen, sun lotion, sun cream or block out) is a lotion, spray, gel or other topical product that absorbs or reflects some of the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation on the skin exposed to sunlight and thus helps protect against sunburn. Skin lightening products have sunscreen to protect lightened skin because light skin is more susceptible to sun damage than darker skin.

Sunscreens contain one or more of the following ingredients:

  • Organic chemical compounds that absorb ultraviolet light.
  • Inorganic particulates that reflect, scatter, and absorb UV light (such as titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or a combination of both).
  • Organic particulates that mostly absorb light like organic chemical compounds, but contain multiple chromophores, may reflect and scatter a fraction of light like inorganic particulates, and behave differently in formulations than organic chemical compounds. An example is Tinosorb M. Since the UV-attenuating efficacy depends strongly on particle size, the material is micronised to particle sizes below 200 nm. The mode of action of this photostable filter system is governed to about 90% by absorption and 10% by scattering of UV light.

Depending on the mode of action sunscreens can be classified into physical sunscreens (i.e. those which reflect the sunlight) or chemical sunscreens (i.e. those which absorb the UV light).

Medical organizations such as the American Cancer Society recommend the use of sunscreen because it prevents the squamous cell carcinoma and the basal cell carcinoma. However, the use of sunscreens is controversial for various reasons. Many sunscreens do not block UVA radiation, which does not cause sunburn but can increase the rate of melanoma, another kind of skin cancer, so people using sunscreens may be exposed to a high level UVA without realizing it. It is often colloquially called sun tan lotion due to the product's similar name, although sun tan lotion is used to absorb UV rays rather than block them.


Sun Tan Lotions:

Sun protection factor (SPF)

The sun protection factor of a sunscreen is a laboratory measure of the effectiveness of sunscreen — the higher the SPF, the more protection a sunscreen offers against UV-B (the ultraviolet radiation that causes sunburn).
The SPF is the amount of UV radiation required to cause sunburn on skin with the sunscreen on, relative to the amount required without the sunscreen. There is a popular misconception that SPF relates to time of solar exposure. For example, many consumers believe that, if they normally get sunburn in one hour, then an SPF 15 sunscreen allows them to stay in the sun 15 hours (i.e., 15 times longer) without getting sunburn. This is not true because SPF is not directly related to time of solar exposure but to amount of solar exposure. Although solar energy amount is related to solar exposure time, there are other factors that impact the amount of solar energy, like the time of day. This is because, during early morning and late afternoon, the sun's radiation must pass through more of the Earth's atmosphere before it gets to you. In practice, the protection from a particular sunscreen depends on factors such as:

  • The skin type of the user.
  • The amount applied and frequency of re-application.
  • Activities in which one engages (for example, swimming leads to a loss of sunscreen from the skin).
  • Amount of sunscreen the skin has absorbed.

The SPF measure it’s different in Europe, Australia and USA, but what’s real it’s that every person needs a different one, special for that person, depending in the type of skin of every person. It’s said that the higher SPF you use, you’ll get less tan. I don’t really know if that’s true, but I think its better getting less tan than getting more damage on the skin, the same reason why I don’t like at all the Sun Tan Lotions. Tanning body milk are different, even I don’t like the either ‘cause leaves in the skin a weird color that doesn’t look like a tan skin at all, but those people using Sun Tan Lotions to get tanned skin, instead of using sunscreen for protecting from the sun effects in the skin… I really hate it, sun light its VERY bad for skin…

So, I learned the lesson, and after reading some texts about sun light and its effect on skin (just to know about terms ‘cause explaining it with my own words would have been very difficult and weird) I reached the conclusion that I need to use sunscreens the whole year, not just in summer, just because I’m so pale that sun light affects more my skin than a darker one. I always put body milk on before going to bed and after the shower in the morning for hydrating my skin, but I’m gonna replace the one I put on after the shower for sunscreen, so I won’t get sunburn anymore, whether it’s summer or winter. It’s really painful when you have sunburn skin, I can tell ‘cause I’m feeling it right now… (T_T)

Melanoma skin cancer (this photos are disgusting, or at least, I think so. Then, just think about it, you really want a skin like this? I deffinitely NOT)

Hard images… I have the stomach upset after looking at them… But as I said, just think about it, skin cancer it’s a serious problem now that it’s popular to sunbathe a lot and have a tan skin…

Gonna buy an appropriate sunscreen after having lunch~ See you next time, guys!

1 comment: