UV rays can wreak havoc on the skin. It can cause fine lines, pigmented spots, tanning, dark patches and even Actinic Kerasotes (sun-related red, scaly spots) that may be precancerous in nature. Therefore it is imperative that we start taking care of the skin from an early age.
The aging that we encounter as a result of prolonged exposure to the summer sun is called photoaging. Skin experts regard such type of aging to be far more harmful than biological aging. While biological aging is a natural process, which occurs with changes in the body, photoaging is after all a result of lifestyle choices. We can certainly prevent and delay its onset by taking precautions and medication. Here’s a look at photoaging and what can we do to prevent its occurrence.
Photoaging: An Overview
Photoaging, as mentioned earlier, is the damage caused by prolonged and repeated exposure to the harmful UV rays. There are several types of UV rays that can cause potential harm to the skin. While the medium-wave UVB is mostly absorbed by the ozone layers of the earth’s atmosphere, UVA is not absorbed completely and can therefore be damaging to the skin.
Apart from UV rays, there are other rays from artificial sources that can be equally damaging. For instance, infra red rays that emanate from artificial heat sources like burners, stoves etc can also be damaging to the skin. Therefore, as per experts, standing for long hours in the heat and cooking in front of a heat source can also be detrimental to skin health. Finally, we have HEV rays that come from all LED light sources. Like all UV rays, HEV rays generate free radicals in the body that breakdown the collagen and the elastin in the skin that give body its youthful appearance. While many of us take steps to protect ourselves from UV rays, we do very little to protect ourselves from the HEV rays that radiate from everyday objects, such as LED lights, television screens and even our telephones.
How to combat photoaging
Photoaging may be damaging to the skin, but with a little bit of precautionary measures, we can delay its harmful effects. Trying to stay in shaded areas, avoiding direct exposure to the sun and using sunscreen and shades are some of the ways in which we can stay safe from sun. Application of sunscreen on a regular basis prevents the appearance of fine lines, dark spots and sagging. It can also prevent certain types of skin cancer.
Understanding Sun Protection Factor
Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is the measure of the fraction of UV rays that reaches the skin. For example, if the SPF is 15, it means that 1/15th part of the sun rays can reach the skin. It is important to remember that higher SPFs do not necessarily mean greater protection from the sun. For sunscreen to be effective one must continually and regularly apply sunscreen every two hours.