Australia, we need to talk about the sun and our skin. Slip, slop, slap we are told every day of the summer, and it remains for every day of the year. The Australian summer is fierce. Being the driest state in the driest country on the planet, the skin cancer and sun damage warnings are forced upon you from an early age, even when you were to young to realise what was being promoted to you. “Wear a hat” “Stay in the shade” “WEAR SUN BLOCK!” are all rules that Australians know well from being barked at you as a child, even though that because it was a rule you would do exactly the opposite to what you’ve been told.
An essential component in the maintenance of a properly functioning body is humans must spend an adequate amount of time exposed to sunlight and UV rays for the purposes of soaking in Vitamin D and other health benefits. While vitamin D can be obtained in smaller doses from margarine and multivitamins, sunlight is the primary source of vitamin D for the body and assists with the absorption of calcium. Yet, as time passes, further research is revealing that then sun can have carcinogenic side-effects on the human body and long-term health issues, starkly contrasting with the belief that humans require sunlight. There are many benefits of exposure to the sun that, while promoted, are often
overshadowed by the downsides. Skin exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays release nitric oxide which lowers the blood pressure levels in the body. In a study conducted by the University of Edinburgh, dermatologists tested the blood pressure of human subjects under both UV and non-UV rays, with results displaying a significant drop in blood pressure after being exposed to UV rays compared to that of a non-UV exposure.
So, while we sit by the pool sipping a cool drink, or at the cricket cheering on your team, how is sun exposure damaging our skin? The sun’s damage on skin varies in seriousness and appearance. Commonly, sun damage results in the development of fine lines and wrinkles, textural change to the skin and discoloration. After prolonged sun exposure, the inner layers of the skin thicken, reducing the ability to retain moisture and wrinkles becoming common around the eyes and mouths which can allow the skin to become susceptible to premature signs of ageing,
and can additionally result in sagging skin tissues . In an attempt to protect itself from sun damage, the skin increases production of the brown pigment Melanin which, in turn, allows the skin to appear darker or ‘sun-tanned’. However, according to the Mayo clinic, in some people the sun causes an uneven increase in Melanin, which produces pigmentation and odd-colouring which can cause permanent dilation of small blood vessels, exposing the skin to a red appearance. The common damage associated with prolonged sun exposure is that of cancer, however. According to the Cancer Council, in Australia, extreme sun exposure (sunburn) causes 95% of Melanomas, the deadliest
All skin, regardless of colour and race, will tan yet the effects are more prevalent in some than others. In a publication by the American Cancer Association in 2015, it was noted that primarily fair-skinned and Caucasian people have a higher chance and developing sun damaged skin, yet those with darker skin are not immune to being effected. People with blue eyes, fair skin and hair are at the highest risk of any sun-induced skin cancer development, ranging from cell carcinoma and, the aforementioned, melanoma.
So if you wish to have those golden bronzed legs that fill your Instagram feeds during the warmer months, go for a healthier option and pop into a Priceline an pick up some Bondi Sands or St Tropez. Protect your skin, lovelies!