The beautiful, warm sun is a wonderful part of our lives. Many of us love to bask like lizards, soaking in its balmy rays. And while it has its benefits, such as providing an important source of vitamin D and boosting your mood, excessive exposure also poses dangers. Especially here in Southern California where we enjoy year-round access to cheerful sunny days, it’s important to keep our sunlight exposure under control. Why? Here are five reasons:
An uncomfortable burning sensation on the skin is a clear indicator you’ve had too much UV exposure. Sunburn is the result of damaged skin cells. To react to the damage, increased blood flow is pumped to your skin, creating a pink or red color. The classic itching and peeling is due to white blood cells attacking the damaged skin cells to remove them. In addition to these unpleasant symptoms, sunburns can also increase your chances of developing skin cancer.
Excessive exposure to the sun can increase your risk of skin cancer. Other factors such as a family history can also come into play. There are two main forms of skin cancer: melanoma and non-melanoma. Melanoma is deadly, but when detected early can often be cured. Both cancers can show up as a dark spot or mole on your skin.
3. Premature Aging
Your skin ages more quickly the more you expose it to the sun. Aged skin appears as leathery, wrinkled and may also include age spots which are areas of darkened skin. This is a long-term side effect of exposure to the sun. So, remember, although you may not see the consequences immediately, they will catch up to you.
A cataract is an obscurity of the eye caused by clouding of the natural lense. Decreased vision and potential blindness can occur as a result of cataracts. Researchers have found that the risk for cataracts may increase with UV exposure. Avoid this risk by limiting your time in the sun and using protection for your eyes.
5. Immune System Compromised
One commonly cited example notes how exposure to the sun without protection diminishes immunity to the virus Herpes. The evidence shows that people who get cold sores are very likely to get them after exposure to UV rays, but those who use sunscreen eliminate this risk. The researchers think this is a result of a compromised immune system due to sun exposure. This may also show why sun exposure is linked to skin cancer. When the body’s defenses are down, the cancer takes over. Another negative side effect is that vaccinations may be less effective in people who are exposed to the sun in excess.
How can you limit your exposure?
While sunscreen is one great option for reducing your exposure to UV rays, there’s nothing like good old shade. Use a hat and sunglasses, or especially and awning on your property to protect yourself from the sun. It’s nice to spend some time in the sun, but try to limit yourself to short stints, and then get back to the shade.
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