The sun’s rays make us feel good, especially during winters. The warmth of the sun is good for your body but only in moderation. We all need Vitamin D to stay healthy and sunlight is the best source for this. But too much exposure to sunlight can have harmful effects as well on your skin. Too much exposure to sunlight- be it for tanning or for work can make your skin look and feel older than your actual age. In this article, we try to find out how bad is sunlight for your skin and overall health

Sun exposure causes skin changes like:

  • More wrinkles
  • General degradation of skin
  • Damages DNA and suppresses skin’s immune system
  • Skin darkening, freckles
  • Pigmentation, sun spots
  • Reduced skin elasticity
  • Skin cancer

How much sun rays is too much?

There needs to be a balancing act of how much your skin is exposed to the sun. That depends on how much the pigmentation is on your skin, where you live, what time of the day are you exposed to the sun and for how long are you exposed to the rays.

If you are a fair skinned person you should spend way less amount in the sun during noon (without sunscreen) than if you are a dark-skinned person. Dark skinned people require at least 6 times the more amount of sunlight than fair-skinned people to get their daily dose of Vitamin D.

In Asian countries, where summers are too hot, exposure to the sun without any sun protection, during noon and the peak hours of the afternoon should be avoided.

Having said that sun exposure is important for the production of Vitamin D. Lately, the low consumption of saturated fats and exposure to the sun has lead to an epidemic of  Vitamin D deficiency. Low Vitamin D levels can lead to osteoporosis, mood swings, depressions, sleep disorders, multiple sclerosis, and prostate cancer. Getting some sun is vital for your health.  Latest research show that moderate sunlight exposure lowers the risk of developing certain types of cancers such as  Non- Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).


How Bad is Sunlight for Your Skin and Overall Health

Skin ages along with your age. Exposure to the sun causes most of the skin changes, even before we age. So a 30-year-old will have a skin of a 40-year-old depending on their skin exposure to the sun. Over time, the sun’s Ultra Violet rays damage the fibers of the skin or elastin. When the elastin is broken down, skin begins to sag, begins to wrinkle, stretch and lose its place. The skin tends to bruise and get damaged more easily. Also if the skin tears, it takes a longer time for it to heal. So when someone is young, the sun damage will not show. But it will start showing earlier as they age.

Too much exposure to the sun can cause Pre-cancer and Cancerous skin lesions. As you age, the skin’s immune function decreases making it more fragile and prone to damages.

Areas of the skin can get discolored and result in pigmentation. Freckles and wrinkles start appearing more often. Anyone below 20 years is more at melanoma risk because of sunburn


Five ways in which too much Sunlight is bad for the skin


Sun exposure exposes the skin to up to 80 percent of visible skin aging. The WHO states ‘Sun-protection- a primary teaching resource’ to educate people about the damage the sun’s UV rays can do to them. Visual signs of Aging like wrinkles, texture, and lack of firmness, vascular disorder, and pigmentation are all linked to sun exposure. Along with the external factors, like pollution, lifestyle, food habits, sun exposure is also one of the major causes of early aging. Constant overexposure to the sun changes the texture and weakens the elasticity of the skin. It induces premature wrinkles, sags and bags, and easy bruising. These are cosmetic changes to the skin.

Affecting all layers of skin

Sun exposure damages five major parts of the skin- the epidermis, dermis, blood vessels, sebaceous glands, and melanocytes. It is termed as dermatoheliosis. The consequences of sun damages here are medical changes of the skin. This can be a frequent development of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer, development of keratoses and the tendency of the skin to become easily irritated and bruised.

How old women look for their age and Photoaging

How women look for their age is related to skin health and greying of hair. The appearance of wrinkles due to sun damage is the primary case here. Wrinkles indicate the severity of sun damage. The wrinkles alongside the exposed portion of the skin like the face as compared to the non-exposed portion of the skin like the back can determine the age of the skin and the damage the sun has done. There is also a photoaging difference which is a person’s left side of the face might age more than a person’s right side. When one side of the face is more exposed to the sun than the other side, photoaging happens.

Skin Cancer

Exposure to the sun at winters puts you at the same risk as during summers. More than required exposure to the sun can increase the chances of skin cancer. Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. While healthy cells grow and divide in a healthy way, cancer cells grow and divide in a very fast paced, haphazard manner. Rapid growth results in malignant and tumors. Basal cells and squamous cells (non-melanoma) are less serious types of cancer. Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. Most sun exposure causes Basal and squamous skin cancer and if these are detected early in age, chances are they may grow to be melanoma later.

It is true that the sun damages the skin more than any other factors, but a little exposure to the sun( 20-30 minutes at least three times a week) is necessary for your health. It helps to bolster your immunity and prevent many diseases including skin cancer.  

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