We’ve all heard that the sun is bad for our skin. But how many of us really know why?
The sun damages our skin through ultra violet radiation. These waves come in varying lengths, which means they damage different layers of the skin to varying degrees. This UV radiation is the number one cause of skin cancer worldwide.
Ultra violet radiation actually breaks down our skins’ connective tissue. This is made up of collagen and elastin, and is what gives our skin its firmness and elasticity. The breakdown of this tissue is what causes our skin to age. Lack of firmness and elasticity leads to lines and wrinkles forming. Never mind that this damage can also cause cancers to form.
The sun also causes our skin to dis-colour, sometimes in the form of a tan, but also in the form of pigmentation. This type of pigmentation takes many forms, but all of them are damage from sun exposure. Pigmentation is simply a higher concentration of melanin in that specific area of skin. Melanin is the skins’ own barrier against sun damage. It creates a certain amount to protect you to the level that it feels necessary, but if you spend too long in the sun, it will ‘panic’ and create uneven patches of excess melanin, causing what we call ‘pigmentation’. There are so many types of pigmentation, none of which sound like conditions you’d want to have. Poikiloderma, Solar Lentigines, and Lentigo malinga that can develop into melanoma, are all types of pigmentation.