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Sun Tanning Effects on Skin

Tanning Facts

  • Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer and is also the most preventable through skin cancer awareness and skin cancer detection
  • The best and most effective way to prevent skin cancer is preventing sun damaged skin or preventing a sun burn
  • Skin cancer risk factors include age and skin sensitivity
  • Always take precautions before going out to lay in the sun, such as using a product with at least an SPF of 15

Tanning is a natural process of human skin and the response when exposed to sunlight. Tanning is known to be the natural defense mechanism of the body that protects against overexposure to the UVA and UVB rays. Sun tanning can be achieved safely with proper protection that being the usage of sunscreen. Because the UVA and UVB rays of the sun are so intense, when you are outdoors, there is often a major possibility of sunburn even if the sky is not completely clear. By using suncreen with adequate sun protection factor, or SPF, the risk of overexposure to the sun diminishes and maximizes the benefits of safe and effective tanning.

Understanding the Ultraviolet Light

Natural light is composed of waves of energy transmitted across 93 million miles from the Sun to the Earth. Each of these energy waves or light rays occur in different parts of a complex spectrum of lights based on the length measured in nanometers (nm). A nanometer is measured as one-billionth of one meter. This means that no two light types can be identical and this also concludes that two different light waves will not have similar effects on the human body. An example of this is the difference between the light used in x-ray machines and the ultraviolet light that is used in a tanning bed. Because the length of the energy wave for both of these types of light is different, the affect it has on the human body will be completely different.Light can be divided into 3 categories, infrared light, visible light and ultraviolet light. However, all these light waves do not reach the earth. Many of these lights are filtered out of the atmosphere and this in turn protects us from the harmful rays. The light waves that cause us to tan are totally invisible.

Comparing the 3 types of lights:

Infrared Light: These waves are usually above 700 nm and include radio waves, electric waves, infrared and also shortwave infrared. Of all these types, only the shortwave infrared can reach the earth’s surface. This is a source of heat to earth and contributes to almost 49% of solar radiation the Earth receives.

Visible Light:These rays are ranged from 400 nm to 700 nm and produce illumination that we visulize as the different colors including red, green, yellow, violet and blue. These contribute to about 46% of the solar radiation the Earth receives.

Ultra Violet Light: These range from 200 nm to 400 nm and makes up the remaining 5% of radiation that reaches the Earth. There are different types of invisible rays such as cosmic rays, x-rays, gamma rays and three different forms of UV light rays. Of all these, only two forms of ultraviolet rays can enter the atmosphere of the Earth. These two light rays (invisible) are identical to the ones used in specialized tanning equipments.

Ultraviolet rays of light are also waves of energy, but are of shorter length as compared to the visible lights and that’s why these cannot be seen. However, the effects of these UV rays are visible to us in the appearance of skin tanning.

The Effects On Our Skin

Our skin is the largest organ of the human body. An average adult’s skin weighs approximately 9 pounds and protects the human body from detrimental pollutants that can be found in the air or water and other sources. There are numerous functions of the skin but tanning can, at times, have an adverse effect on the skin.

Our skin isdivided into 3 different layers. The outermost layer is the epidermis, where tans are produced. The middle or second layer, the dermis, contains collagen and elastin that helps in maintaining the firmness of the skin. It also helps in fighting against infections. Several other structures including nerve fibers and blood vessels are also embedded in the dermis. The innermost or the bottom layer of the skin is the subcutaneous tissue. This layer is primarily composed of fats and helps in binding the skin to our body. These tissues have multiple purposes such as serving as the food reserve of the body, insulation and a shock absorber.

The outermost layer of the skin is composed of different cells, of which the three main types are: Basal cells, Keratinocytes and Melanocytes. Melanocytes are the pigment cells and this contributes to the skin pigmentation.

Melanin, a form of protein pigment, is produced by the melanocytes and this protects the skin from overexposure to the ultraviolet light. The melanin content of the skin actually colors and protects it. These melanocytes are pressed to produce added melanin when exposed to UVB ultraviolet lights. UVA rays oxidize the melanin making the skin darker in order to protect our body from over exposure. This actually causes the skin to brown in the true sense of the word. The pigment color is also dependent on several factors, such as heredity, type of skin and also past occasions of exposure to the harmful ultraviolet rays.

Too much ultraviolet lights have an adverse affect on the skin causing sunburn characterized by skin reddening, swelling and bursting of the blood vessels. If this happens repeatedly, it can be a serious cause of concern and has been thought to being a precusor in the development and promotion of skin cancers, especially melanoma skin cancer. Stay protected by using with a SPF 25 or more. It is very important to limit the duration of exposure to the sun which will help you tan naturally and effectively.

The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.

One Response to “Sun Tanning Effects on Skin”

  1. 1
    Janet Says:
    Wow. This article really shed some light about the different types of light. This really makes me more prone to use sunscreen at all times than just letting it go one time.