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May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, which serves as a time to further bring to the light the dangerous effects of ultraviolet rays from the sun. From premature aging to serious effects such as skin cancer (which can sometimes be fatal), UV rays can come with a cost greater than a temporary tan. In this addition of Skin Health 101, we are going to speak in detail of the effects of UV rays.

There are two main types of UV rays, UV-A and UV-B, and they are both equally dangerous in the effects they cause. UV-A rays penetrate deep into the thickest layer of skin, the dermis, which leads to premature aging and wrinkling, and suppression of the immune system. Repeated UV exposure will cause clinical signs that reflect structural changes in the skin. These changes are dryness, wrinkles, accentuated skin furrows, sagging, loss of elasticity, and mottled pigmentation. These degenerative changes in elastin and collagen are largely irreversible. It is believed that as much as 80% of premature skin aging occurs within the first 20 years of life. The other serious effect of UV-A rays is the suppression of our body’s immune system. UV radiation induces a state of relative immunosuppression that prevents tumor rejection. Immunosuppressive effects of UV rays may be the key factor in UV-induced skin tumors.

UV-B rays usually burn the superficial layers of skin, but play a key role in the development of skin cancer. Skin cancers are one the most commonly occurring cancers in terms of incidences around the world. Skin cancer comes in the form of basal cell carcinoma, melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma cancers. Exposure to UV radiation disrupts our skin’s cellular makeup, and induces DNA damage, which makes these cancers more prevalent.

It is so important to protect your skin early in life and to form good habits when it comes to maintaining your skin’s health. Wearing a sunscreen with a proper SPF, like EltaMD can keep your skin protected from both types of UV rays, and donning sunglasses can protect your eyes and save your vision. Prevention of these ailments and cancers is possible, as long as you are aware of the dangers and are mindful of the effects. Stay sun safe this summer with the professionals at Collins Advanced Dermatology Institute. For more information on how you can protect yourself from harmful UV rays, visit us online, and book an appointment today.