Most of us are familiar with that feeling after exposure to sunlight or a tanning bed – that slight heat and tightness that indicates we probably should not have stayed out quite so long. But we are likely to be consoling ourselves that the damage is done and nothing can be done about it now that we are indoors and the sun has gone for the day. What can you do for your skin health after dark? Well, it seems that the damage continues long after the sun has gone to bed and that we can mitigate it with the use of a simple after sun cream.
A study carried out by a Professor of Therapeutic Radiology at the Yale School of Medicine has discovered that damage to the skin that is caused by sunlight or tanning lamps can continue for hours after the initial exposure. The specific type of damage that was studied is known as CPD – damage to DNA that prevents normal repair of the skin.
The damage is caused by two enzymes that combine during exposure to UV rays – these excite an electron in the melanin of the skin and this causes a darkness (tanning) of the skin and other damage such as wrinkles and moles. The energy that comes from these two molecules was also transmitted to the DNA during the hours of darkness causing damage to the DNA of the cells. In fact, half of the damage to the cells occurred at night.
What can we do?
You may think that there is very little you can do to protect your skin after exposure to the sun, but actually, the study seems to show that the damage to the DNA is very slow and can be prevented by the use of a simple after-sun cream.
No-one is suggesting that it is a good idea to lay out in the sun all day and then to just use an after sun cream to prevent further damage. The facts are that it is the initial exposure that causes skin cancer and melanoma – but if you are caught out and have been exposed to the sun then you should consider an after sun cream to keep the damage to a minimum.
In fact, it might be wise to use a good after sun cream on a daily basis to be on the safe side. After all, we are all out in the sunlight at some point in the day and may have had exposure that we don’t even know about.
Of course, keeping a close eye on your moles and freckles is the first step towards discovering skin cancer. Watch out for changes in colour and size and for any new moles that are fast growing. Better safe than sorry!