by Dr. Utpal Patel, MD, PhD
Dr. Patel is an American College of Mohs Surgery (ACMS) fellowship-trained skin cancer and reconstructive surgeon.
Here in sunny Florida, we are confronted daily with an abundance of ultraviolet (UV) radiation emitted by the sun. Our skin is a highly effective barrier that provides the body with protection from these rays, and we are all familiar with the sensation of sunburn that occurs when our skin absorbs too much sun. But did you know that the sun’s UV radiation has a variety of short-term and long-term health effects, both harmful and beneficial?
Sunlight is required for our bodies to produce vitamin D, which is important for reducing the risk of heart disease‚ osteoporosis‚ multiple sclerosis and many other conditions and diseases. Here in Florida, just a few minutes per day of sun exposure on the arms and legs is all that most people need in order to produce enough vitamin D. Sun exposure may also make you happier – studies have shown that exposure to UV radiation causes the release of endorphins, known as feel-good hormones. Don’t overdo it though, because too much sun exposure has a host of damaging effects on our bodies.
Short-term consequences of too much UV radiation include inflammatory conditions of the skin, such as sunburn, rashes, hives, and rosacea, among others. Long-term effects of sun exposure include photo-aging and increased risk of skin cancers.
Most of the skin changes that we think of as a normal part of aging, including fine lines, coarse wrinkles, freckles, uneven pigmentation, yellowish discoloration of skin, increased appearance of blood vessels, and thinning of the skin, are the direct result of a lifetime’s worth of exposure to UV radiation.
Most forms of skin cancer, including basal cell cancer, squamous cell cancer, and melanoma, are also a direct result of sun exposure over the course of a lifetime.
Steps that can be taken to keep skin looking younger and to reduce the risk of skin cancer include minimizing time spent in the sun, and wearing sunscreen daily.
In the next issue, we will discuss sun protection strategies including how to properly select and apply sunscreen.
Lotus Dermatology combines unmatched medical and surgical expertise in dermatology with the highest level of care and compassion for adult and pediatric patients. Visit: https://www.lotusdermatology.com/