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SUN – gain or damage…

SUN – gain or damage…

Impact of the sun on our skin can be both beneficial and harmful. As we have already entered summer months and are having one heat wave after another, it is important to understand that our skin requires sun exposure but it has to be strictly limited for some people.

In the modern day and age everyone is aware that ultraviolet (UV) rays are harmful, may cause cancer and make us age quicker. However, UV rays also have a positive effect on our bodies, primarily by stimulating the production of vitamin D. You may have  noticed that people are happier during the summer and especially this year. It is because we’ve been blessed with sunny weather.

Vitamin D

A lot of our customers normally complain of feeling lethargic, lacking sleep and energy during early spring. This is because there is not enough sunny days in the UK in general. As a result, our bodies don’t produce enough vitamin D and we suffer from its deficiency. Unlike most vitamins, vitamin D actually functions like a hormone, and every single cell in our bodies has a receptor for it. Our body makes it from cholesterol when the skin is exposed to sunlight. It’s also found in certain foods such as fatty fish and some dairy products, although it’s very difficult to get enough from diet alone. It is estimated that 1 billion people have vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency worldwide. The association between vitamin D deficiency and bone disease, such as rickets, osteomalacia and osteoporosis are well recognised.

Key points:

  • The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency is high world-wide, particularly in the elderly.
  • The primary role of vitamin D is the maintenance of healthy bones, but more recently it has been associated with many other conditions.
  • Vitamin D deficiency is associated with muscle weakness, which is reversible with vitamin D supplementation.
  • Recent National guidance has been published in the UK, on the management of vitamin D deficiency in adult patients with, or at risk of developing, bone disease.

Sun damage

To understand how UV rays can cause cancer it is important to know that these rays are divided into 3 categories: UVA, UVB and UVC. UVC are the shortest rays (200 -290 nm) and are absorbed in the upper atmosphere and, unlike UVA and UVB rays, do not reach us on the surface of the Earth. Although UVB rays (290 -320 nm) display beneficial effects such as production of several antimicrobial peptides and provitamin D, they are more energetic than UVA rays and can directly damage the DNA of epidermal cells and induce sunburn reaction. In the long term, they are the major contributors of photo-carcinogenesis, i.e. skin cancer. In turn, UVA rays (320 – 400 nm) penetrate deeper into our skin and can also generate DNA damage. They can reach the deeper layer of the skin (dermis) and are therefore able to induce deeper dermal damage and, in the long term, cause photo-ageing of the skin. Both UVA and UVB have been shown to be responsible for pigmentation, photo-immunosuppression, photo-ageing, and photo-carcinogenesis.

The most disturbing image of sunburn we’ve seen so far is below. It was published by Evening Telegraph last year.

Greg Binnie, a Scottish gardener, suffered second-degree burns on his shoulders and neck which were exposed while he was working outside in a heatwave. It’s painful just to look at this gentleman’s back but imagine how long it took the skin to heal and what damage has been caused. It is a well known fact that gardeners as well as builders are at high risk of developing skin cancer following constant, prolonged sun exposure and dismissal of use of sufficient sun protection products. Yet some people continue to refuse to acknowledge a connection between sunburn and skin cancer.

Sunburn is an inflammatory reaction that occurs after acute intermittent exposure of the skin to intense solar radiation. Sunburn is considered a biological marker for acute, high-dose ultraviolet radiation penetrating the protective layers of the epidermis down to the level of the melanocytes. It has been identified as a strong predictor of melanoma risk and is one of the factors contributing to the “intermittent exposure hypothesis” for melanoma.

Unfortunately, Brits are generally light skinned, evolutionary unadapted to high sun exposure, and it is worrying to see them on European beaches for hours in midday high heat. Some of them relay on SPF creams but it doesn’t fully protect them from harmful UV rays. By the end of the day many of bright red backs, legs and faces are seen around. Consequently, some of them will get skin cancer later in their life…


So, what happens if you don’t get burnt but enjoy the sun sensibly? Wrinkles, loss of firmness and elasticity, broken red vessels and pigmentation patches will appear at some point of your late life, but can materialise prematurely as a result of sun exposure. We don’t usually think of the sun as being responsible because some of sun damaging effects don’t show up straight away. Instead, sun damage accumulates overtime and starts to show up years later. When, to be exact? According to Dr Schultz, one of the leading dermatologists, “sun damage from unprotected sun exposure only takes one to two decades to show up, so beginning in anyone’s 20s and early 30s you can start to see the effects of unprotected sun exposure from childhood”! We commonly think that wrinkles only begin to appear in our mid 30s and sun spots even later, but that’s not always true. From our experience, some people notice first fine lines, especially around the eyes, in their mid-20s.

To protect itself from the damaging effects of the sun, your skin increases its production of the dark brown pigment called melanin. The extra melanin makes your skin look darker or sun-tanned. In some cases, the sun causes an uneven increase in melanin production, which produces irregular coloring (pigmentation) of the skin. The sun can also cause a permanent stretching of small blood vessels, giving your skin a mottled, reddish appearance.

Solar lentigines (len-TIJ-ih-neze) are flat spots of increased pigmentation. They’re usually brown, black or grey and can vary in size. They usually appear on areas most exposed to the sun, such as the face, hands, arms and upper back. These spots, also referred to as age spots or liver spots, are common in older adults. They also occur in younger people who spend a lot of time in the sun without protecting their skin.

Ultraviolet radiation breaks down the skin’s connective tissue — collagen and elastin fibres — that lies in the dermis. Without the supportive connective tissue, the skin loses its strength and flexibility. This condition, known as solar elastosis (e-las-TOE-sis), is characterised by vertical creases, deep wrinkles and loose or sagging skin.

People with light skin are much more at risk of sun damage, but darker-skinned people can also be affected.

This shocking picture of a truck driver – and of the damage that prolonged exposure to the sun did to the left side of his face – will make you never want to leave home again without smothering your face with SPF cream.

What you can do…

Excessive exposure to the sun early in life can make a person look older than he or she really is. Photo-ageing, unlike natural ageing, results in coarse, dry skin, freckling and skin discolouration, leathery skin and deep wrinkles. Do you need to treat it? The simple, straight forward answer is – NO. BUT… we would like to delay this process and look younger and fresher for longer.

No one can avoid the natural process of aging, as the skin thins and lines and wrinkles appear. Moles, scars, and birthmarks also tend to change as we age. In addition, sun damage over the course of a lifetime worsens the ageing process of the skin. Although there are many anti-ageing creams on the market, signs of ageing and sun damage require more advanced and appropriate products and aesthetic  procedures.

so, what is the verdict?!

  1. Cover up. Wear tightly-woven clothing that blocks out light. …
  2. Use sunscreen. A sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 blocks 93 percent of UV rays. …
  3. Wear a hat. A wide brim hat (not a baseball cap) is ideal because it protects the neck, ears, eyes, forehead, nose, and scalp.
  4. Wear UV-absorbent shades. …
  5. Limit exposure.

At the LASERINA clinic we offer one of the best SPF 50+ protection LIGHT PROTECT, which is produced by a reputable UK based laser manufacturer. We advise to start the application as early as possible in life on the daily basis and irrelevant of whether it is a sunny or a rainy day. Sun rays penetrate the clouds and reach us even when the sun is not shining.

Advanced cutting edge technology used at our clinic will restore your skin to its younger, smoother and radiant complexion. We will recommend an appropriate routine or course of treatments depending on your age and skin condition.

Appearance is everything, and it’s not what age you are, but how old your friends and family think you look, that counts. Even before the course of treatment is complete, our clients start to hear regular comments from people around them on how much fresher their skin looks.

All our consultations are FREE OF CHARGE (apart from Gold Thread FACE LIFT) and you can book in for yours either by calling us on 0161 9694190 or emailing us at therapy@laserina.co.uk

For more information about possible treatment visit our ANTI-AGING TREATMENTS PAGE.

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