Don't Let Too Much Of A Good Thing Spoil Your Fun

For some people, the arrival of cold weather means a chance to head off to a warmer climate and enjoy the sun. The lure of a warm sand beach can keep you out in the sun way too long. Your body provides a natural resistance to the effect of the sun's rays, and lotion can keep you out even longer. But there is a limit to how much sun your skin can take before problems develop. Here is why you must remind yourself that too much exposure to the sun will cut into your fun, and your health.

A Healthy Dose of the Sun is a Good Thing

Your body needs regular exposure to the sun. The sun increases production of vitamin D, which is used to process calcium into bone and cartilage. It causes the release of substances that help lower your blood pressure. The sun will help you sleep better at night. It also has the effect of improving your mood by fighting off feelings of depression. These benefits can be overshadowed, though, by being out in the sun too long.

When Your Natural Defenses Break Down

Sunlight is made up of the light that you can see and three forms of invisible ultraviolet light: Ultraviolet A, B and C. Ultraviolet C waves are blocked by the ozone layer around the Earth. The other two waves are what cause problems with your skin.

Your skin produces melanin in response to exposure to these UV rays. This material is what causes the darkening of your skin. The purpose of the color is to protect the deeper layers of skin from too much sunlight. Continued exposure to the sun exhausts your body's ability to produce enough melanin to protect you. This leaves your skin open to damage by the UV rays.

Sun screen lotion gives you limited protection to the sun. It gives you some additional time to spend in the sun without damage, but it is easily affected by perspiration, how much is applied and how often. Don't be lulled into a false sense of security by relying too much on the lotion to protect you.

The Damage the Sun Can Do

The sun can damage your skin just as touching a hot surface can leave a burn. Your skin first turns red as the cells in it die. Large patches of dry, dead skin cells then form scar tissue. A skin doctor will need to remove the dead cells to allow healthy cells to grow on the surface.

The dead skin is also where cancer cells first develop. Your doctor will examine you for signs of various skin cancers that can appear on the surface of the skin and in the deeper layers. Some of the cancer cells can be removed surgically, but others will require radiation treatment to stop their spread.

When the dead cells and dry skin is extensive, skin grafts may be required to replace those areas, leaving permanent scarring.

When You Know You've Had Enough

Red skin is the first sign that your skin is being overwhelmed by UV rays. Lotion won't help at this point, nor will putting on a light shirt. Ultraviolet A rays can pass through glass and light clothing. Getting out of the sun is the only way to prevent skin damage.

Should you have red areas that don't clear up after a few hours, see a skin doctor. They will prescribe lotions to treat the damaged skin and replace the moisture lost to the sun. If you wait until your skin begins to feel dry, you put yourself at risk of developing disfiguring scars and skin cancer.

For more information, contact Dermatology Surgery Center or a similar location.