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Sun Damage

Sun damaged skin can reveal itself in a few different ways. Wrinkles,
hyperpigmentation, epidermal or dermal dehydration and collagen
breakdown may be visible.

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Cellular Skin Changes Caused by UV Radiation
Sunlight has a profound effect on the skin causing premature skin aging,
skin cancer, and a host of skin changes. Exposure to ultraviolet light, UVA
or UVB, from sunlight accounts for 90% of the symptoms of premature
skin aging.

What is UV Radiation?
The sun gives off ultraviolet radiation that we divide into categories based
on the wavelength.
   • UVC - 100 to 290 nm
   • UVB - 290 to 320 nm
   • UVA - 320 to 400 nm

UVC Radiation
UVC radiation is almost completely absorbed by the ozone layer and does
not affect the skin. UVC radiation can be found in artificial sources such as
mercury arc lamps and germicidal lamps.

UVB Radiation
UVB affects the outer layer of skin, the epidermis, and is the primary agent
responsible for sunburns. It is the most intense between the hours of 10:00
am and 2:00 pm when the sunlight is brightest. It is also more intense in the
summer months accounting for 70% of a person's yearly UVB dose. UVB
does not penetrate glass.

A positive effect of UVB light is that it induces the production of vitamin D
in the skin. So a little sun exposure in the early morning or late afternoon is

UVA Radiation
UVA was once thought to have a minor effect on skin damage, but now
studies are showing that UVA is a major contributor to skin damage. UVA
penetrates deeper into the skin and works more efficiently. The intensity of
UVA radiation is more constant than UVB without the variations during the
day and throughout the year. UVA is also not filtered by glass.

Damaging Effects of UVA and UVB
Both UVA and UVB radiation can cause skin damage including wrinkles,
lowered immunity against infection, aging skin disorders, and cancer.
Some of the possible mechanisms for UV skin damage are collagen
breakdown, the formation of free radicals, interfering with DNA repair, and
inhibiting the immune system.

Collagen Breakdown
In the dermis, UV radiation causes collagen to break down at a higher rate
than with just chronologic aging. Sunlight damages collagen fibers and
causes the accumulation of abnormal elastin. When this sun-induced
elastin accumulates, enzymes called metalloproteinases are produced in
large quantities. Normally, metalloproteinases remodel sun-injured skin by
manufacturing and reforming collagen. However, this process does not
always work well and some of the metalloproteinases actually break down
collagen. This results in the formation of disorganized collagen fibers
known as solar scars. When the skin repeats this imperfect rebuilding
process over and over wrinkles develop and the skin looses its elasticity.

Free Radicals
UV radiation is one of the major creators of free radicals. Free radicals are
unstable oxygen molecules that have only one electron instead of two.
Because electrons are found in pairs, the molecule must scavenge other
molecules for another electron. When the second molecule looses its
electron to the first molecule, it must then find another electron repeating
the process. This process can damage cell function and alter genetic
material. Free radical damage causes wrinkles by activating the
metalloproteinases that break down collagen. They cause cancer by
changing the genetic material, RNA and DNA, of the cell.

 Skinformation Topics

The topics presented here are for informational purposes only. They are not intended to be a substitute for medical advice and information provided by your healthcare provider. Any decisions you make regarding your health care options should be made after consulting a qualified physician

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