I am often asked, “Is sunlight good for you?” or “Is there such a thing as a healthy tan?”
Now that summer is here I thought this would be a good time to talk about sunlight and skin. In the past, it was thought that healthy skin required a good tan. And, we know that sunlight is important for Vitamin D production. Unfortunately, as you will see, a good tan is damaging to the skin. Also, you only need a few minutes of sunlight to obtain your daily Vitamin D dose.
Sunlight is made up of many wavelengths, but the most important are UVA and UVB. UVA, or longer wavelength UV, penetrates deeper into the skin. These are considered the tanning rays. They are blocked by window glass. Chronic exposure leads to photo-aging of the skin which includes wrinkling, discoloration, lines, thinning, and solar elastosis (or yellow spots). UVB, or shorter wavelength UV, causes pre-cancers and skin cancers. These rays cause sunburn. The effects can be minimized by the use of sunscreen. Most sunscreens today have chemicals that effectively absorb UVA and UVB wavelengths. In addition, there are sunscreens containing titanium dioxide which physically block these wavelengths effectively. The use of sunscreens can save the skin from many of the effects listed above.
So is sunlight good for you? Only in small amounts. Is there such thing as a healthy tan? No.
Stay tuned for Sun and Skin Part 2.
Please call the office at 941-365-0330 with any questions.