Being in the sun is an enjoyable experience. In fact, as humans we were designed to need sun to help our bodies function physically and to benefit our emotional and mental development. The importance of being able to spend time in the sun can be seen when we look at what happens to people emotionally when they live in areas that have extended periods of time without sun.
In parts of the country that have a late sunrise and an early sunset, people experience what is referred to as seasonal depression. Because of this, offices in these areas purchase special lights that simulate the sun. The goal is to improve a person’s mental and physical well-being even though they do not have the ability to be directly in the sun.
That being said, spending too much time in the sun can be detrimental. When a person is in the sun for too long, their body starts to produce an excessive amount of melanin. This is what makes a person skin look darker or what gives them that suntanned appearance.
When a person is in the sun for an extended amount of time, they may start to develop uneven skin coloration. The sun can also leave a person with the permanent stretching of blood vessels. As a result, their skin looks like they are molting or their face looks red.
Some mistakenly believe that individuals who have darker shades of skin are impervious to sun damage. And while it is true that the more melanin a person has in their skin, the more they are protected against the sun, this does not mean that individuals with darker shades of skin are invulnerable to sun damage. They can also experience the irregular pigmentation and wrinkles that accompany overexposure to the sun.
Solar lentigines are another example of sun damage. These are flat spots on the face that have increased pigmentation. They vary in size and range in color from being gray to black or brown. Most people display this type of sun damage on their hands, face and back. Some refer to these as age spots or liver spots. However, even young people who spend too much time in the sun can experience this form of sun damage.
The same marks can be found on a person’s lips. Usually, it is just a single spot, and usually these spots are more noticeable on the lower lip because it is more exposed to the sun.
Ultraviolet rays from the sun can begin to break down the collagen and elastin in a person’s skin. These are the connective tissues that hold our skin together. Without these tissues, the skin loses its flexibility and strength. As a result, people begin to develop loose and saggy skin, and they have deep wrinkles.
There are a lot of steps that people can take to protect themselves from sun damage. These include wearing a large brimmed hat and long-sleeved clothing, staying out of the sun during its strongest parts of the day and wearing protective sunscreen.
The team at Dr. Yeoman’s Dermatology Office would be happy to examine the condition of your skin and help you determine if sun damage is a concern. Our offices are located in Paragould and Poplar Bluff. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.