Suntan and Sunburn

Monday, June 20, 2016

A suntan or sunburn is a sign that skin has been damaged by ultraviolet rays. Dr. Edward Hill tells us more about suntans and sunburns in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

Melanin is the pigment that gives skin its color. People with light skin have less melanin than people with dark skin. When skin is damaged by the suns UV rays, the body makes more melanin to try to protect against further damage. This extra melanin gives suntanned skin its darker appearance.

But a suntan does not provide good protection against the harmful effects of UV rays. In fact, a suntan is a sign that skin has already been damaged, and tanned skin can continue to be damaged when exposed to UV rays.

For people with light skin, exposure to UV rays can lead to sunburn in as little as 10 to 15 minutes. The redness of a sunburn is caused by increased blood flow to skin that has been damaged.

Exposure to UV rays is the leading cause of skin cancers. These cancers often occur on skin that has been damaged by years of sun exposure, although they can occur on other areas of the body as well.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.