Lot’s of people, me included, want to get a nice tan in the summer.
Why? Because we like the look of tanned skin. It is a mood booster, some skin perfections go away, the skin glows and we make our friends and colleagues jealous when we come back from holiday. It is a sign of having had a good time away, I guess.
But a sun tan is actually not that great for our skin.
WHAT IS A SUN TAN?
A sun tan is effectively skin damage.
The exposure to sun, in particular UV radiation, increases skin pigments, which are called melanin. These cause the colour change and darken of our skin, the outcome being the tan. The increased production of melanin is an attempt to protect our skin from even more damage.
WHY A SUN TAN IS ACTUALLY BAD FOR US
There are several reasons that most of us know about, why tanning is actually bad for us. The two most obvious once are skin cancer and skin ageing. But what do these actually mean?
Ageing of the skin can lead to the following signs and symptoms:
- Enlarged blackheads
- Loss of skin elasticity
- Black spots
You might not see an immediate impact of skin ageing right now, but surely later!
In terms of skin cancer, there are two main types of skin cancer caused by too much sun exposure: non – melanoma and melanoma cancer.
Did you know that skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the world?
Non – melanoma skin cancer refers to a group of skin cancers, which can develop over time in the upper/outermost layers of the skin, the epidermis. According to the NHS (2019), around 147,000 cases of non – melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed in the UK every year.
If non – melanoma skin cancer can be spotted at an early stage, overall it can be treated successfully. However, if undetected and allowed to grow, it can cause some serious harm to your skin leading to disfiguring, scars and in worst case scenarios even death as the cancer can reach deeper layers of the skin and then spread to other parts of the body (FDA, 2019).
Melanoma skin cancer is the more serious type of skin cancer among the two. It can spread more easily to other organs in the body. In the UK, around 16,000 cases are identified and around 2,300 people die from melanoma skin cancer every year (NHS, 2019).
DO I HAVE TO WEAR SUNSCREEN?
Alright, going back to my blog post title and question “Do I Have To Wear Sunscreen?”
After reading about the dangerous too much and unprotected sun exposure can cause, the answer is ABSOLUTELY!
There is clear evidence that a sun tan is skin damage induced by overexposure to the sun. It is caused by spending too much time in the sun and without or not enough adequate protection in terms of sun screen and clothing.
Avoiding using sun screen to get a nice and fast tan is damaging the skin and can be deadly in worst case scenarios.
It does increase the risk of skin damage, skin ageing and skin cancer.
Sun screen will add a layer of protection against the UVA rays, responsible for skin ageing and UVB rays, causing skin burn.
Remember, your skin is an organ as well and we need to look after it!
You will always get a bit of a tan, even if you apply that layer of protection called sun screen.
- NHS (2019) Overview – Skin cancer (non-melanoma): https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/non-melanoma-skin-cancer/
- NHS (2019) Overview – Skin cancer (melanoma): https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/melanoma-skin-cancer/
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2019) The Risks of Tanning: https://www.fda.gov/radiation-emitting-products/tanning/risks-tanning#2