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Sun Damage - An Overview

Sun damage can have a variety of negative effects on the skin. There are short term and long term consequences.

Acute sun damage:

Sunburn is one of the most common and obvious forms of sun damage. Often occurring several hours following sun exposure, redness, warmth, and inflammation occur on the exposed skin.

  • Sunburns are a very common and immediate result of sun damage
  • Sunburns are caused by the UVB spectrum of light
  • Those with lighter skin burn quicker than those with darker skin
  • The exposed skin becomes red and warm to the touch shortly after exposure.
  • The skin will often peel off several days later
  • Severe cases of sunburn are uncommon, but can become a medical emergency if left untreated
  • Sunburns, especially during a young age may increase the risk of certain cancers occurring later in life

Chronic sun damage:

Sun exposure also has long-term effects, which may be more dangerous because they are invisible for so long.

  • Photoaging, sometimes called premature aging is a long-term consequence of sun exposure
  • Sun spots, and melasma are some forms of pigmentation problems that can occur as a result of accumulated sun damage
  • Chronic sun damage often does not show up until a person's thirties, but the damage is hidden, and will show up later as the skin's ability to recover from damage weakens
  • Pre-cancerous legions like actinic keratosis are caused by accumulated sun exposure
  • Wrinkles can develop earlier due to sun damage
  • Several types of skin cancer are caused in part by accumulated sun damage

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