Thursday, 11 May 2017

Sun Induced Skin Conditions

Sunlight is generally thought to be beneficial for the skin and in a controlled environment with the right amount of protection, I would wholly agree. It provides us with a healthy dose of vitamin D to encourage skin repair, build immunity and promote bone growth. However, ultra violet (UV) radiation can initiate many unwanted skin changes.


Most of us will have suffered from sunburn at some point in our lives, either as a child or in later life. Excessive sun exposure causes the skin to become red, sensitive and hot. In some cases if the level of sunburn is severe, blistering can occur.

The severity of the burn depends on the level of sun exposure and your skin type. People with fair or red hair, blue eyes and pale skin are prone to more severe sunburn than those with darker skin. There is a common myth that black and Asian skins are safe from sunburn. Although they are less likely to burn in short spells of exposure, they are not exempt. The only way to completely shun sunburn is to avoid intense over exposure. Any exposed areas of skin should be coated in suncream, which needs to be regularly reapplied throughout the day (we recommend every 2 hours), protective clothing including wide brimmed hats (think Audrey Hepburn) and oversized sunglasses to not only protect the eye itself but the thin skin surrounding the eye area.

If you do get caught out red-skinned, follow our step by step guide:

  •  Cool the skin immediately with a cold compress or ice pack
  • Avoid getting the area wet and stay away from hot baths or showers as this can aggravate the burn
  • Use lotions containing aloe vera to soothe and calm the affected area
  • Keep the area covered and out of sunlight until it is completely healed¢ Drink lots of water to rehydrate the body
  • If the skin is blistered or weeping seek medical advice - a hydrocortisone cream may be needed to relieve the symptoms in severe cases
  • When the inflammation has calmed down, the skin may begin to peel. Use an antioxidant body oil containing vitamin E.
  • In the days, months and even years after the sunburn has taken place its important to check your skin for any unusual changes. New moles are likely to appear after sun exposure but any abnormal, itchy, scabby or weeping lesions need to be checked over by a medical professional.

Polymorphic Light Eruption

Not to be confused with 'prickly heat', this space age sounding skin disorder is an unpleasant eruption of a rash on light exposed areas of skin. The rash can develop into blisters, becoming sore and uncomfortable. It is more common in women than men and often develops on the face, neck, arms and legs. Avoiding sun exposure is the best way to avoid stimulating an outbreak, however there is preventative medication that can help avoid the onset.

Juvenile Spring Eruption


My nephew's Juvenile Spring Eruption outbreak

Just recently I had a personal experience with this disorder. My young nephew had been enjoying the rare spring sunshine when I noticed a development of blisters along the topside of his ear. At first I thought it was some kind of reaction to a plant he had touched until the blisters gradually got worse and became extremely uncomfortable. There it was, a first hand development of Juvenile Spring Eruption.

This is thought to be a variant of Polymorphic Light Eruption and develops in young boys. It tends to only occur in the spring/summer season and out breaks are usually short lived. The affected area should be treated like sunburn. It's important to keep it dry and cool avoiding further UV and heat exposure.

Actinic Keratosis

This is one of the most common sun induced problems that I see on my patients. Actinic keratoses are dry, scaly patches of skin caused by sun exposure. They can be pink, red or brown and vary in size. They are most commonly seen on the face, nose, ears, chest and scalp (particularly in bald men).

They are most common in light sensitive skin types and normally don't appear until after the age of 40. However, people who spend a lot of time in the sun or working outdoors are also prone from any age.

The lesions don't normally cause any discomfort although they can be itchy and are a cosmetic concern for some people. There is a small risk that these patches can develop into cancerous cells, so any changes should be reported to a medical professional.

For further advice on protecting your skin during the summer months, call our skincare experts on 0113 282 3181.

Written for you by: Emily, Face the Future

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