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Understanding How the Sun Can Affect Your Skin

Jun 23, 2011

The sun and the skin have a paradoxical relationship. While daily sun exposure is the body’s primary means of manufacturing calcitriol (also called vitamin D, a key factor in bone health), excessive sunlight can cause damage to the skin, leading to premature aging and even cancer.

Some food sources are a natural source of vitamin D – including eggs, fish, and mushrooms. In many developed countries like the United States, foods are fortified by adding vitamin D—typically milk, flour, and margarine. With a sufficient dietary intake of vitamin D, the biological need for sunlight is reduced, which can lower the risk of cancer and prevent wrinkles in the skin.

There are two main risks associated with excessive sun exposure:

  • Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the rapid, uncontrolled growth of cells on or under the surface of the skin, forming a tumor. When a tumor invades and damages nearby tissue, it is said to be malignant. Cancerous cells from a tumor can also travel through the body to other organs in a process called metastasis, which is often fatal. The main forms of skin cancer are squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), basal cell carcinoma (BCC), and melanoma. SCC and BCC are the most common skin cancers, but melanoma is the deadliest, accounting for 75% of skin cancer deaths. If detected early, most skin cancers are treatable by removing layers of cancerous skin one by one.

  • Premature Aging

Wrinkles and sunspots are the result of chemical changes in the skin brought on by UV radiation, which causes skin to lose its strength and elasticity. Regular exfoliation and treatments like botulinum oxin (Botox) injections and skin chemical peels can keep skin looking young and healthy. Avoid tanning beds, as they are essentially UV lamps that will speed up the aging process and increase the risk of cancer.

If you have any questions or if you want to know more about the treatment options available for wrinkles and skin cancer, contact our office. Arlington Dermatology has served the northwest Chicago area for years and our board-certified dermatologists specialize in skin care, cosmetic dermatology, and skin cancer treatment. Call us today at 847-392-5440 to schedule your next appointment!