5 Health Benefits of Sun Exposure

Sun CareThat sensation of warm sun on your skin often feels like it is doing you good, enhancing your feeling of wellbeing. So without minimising for a moment the significant risks that sun exposure raises, what are the potential health benefits?

It is true that UV radiation can be beneficial to the body as long as exposure is kept in moderation. UV radiation has been used to successfully treat a number of diseases, including rickets, psoriasis, eczema and jaundice, but the potential benefits must always be balanced against the risks associated with sun exposure. .

1/ Vitamin D

Sun exposure stimulates the production of vitamin D. Our bodies need vitamin D to absorb calcium, which is essential for strong bones and teeth. Vitamin D is not easily found in diet, although certain cereals, bread and other foods may have vitamin D added nowadays.

UVB rays from the sun help our bodies produce vitamin D, which means that it in turn plays a crucial role in skeletal development, immune function and blood cell formation. In severe cases of vitamin D deficiency, rickets can occur. This causes a child’s bones to soften because they are not getting enough calcium.

However, this is no excuse to sit outside without sunscreen or for prolonged periods. It only takes between 5-15 minutes of having the hands, face and arms exposed, just 2-3. That means that vitamin D deficiency is unlikely for most people in the UK.

2/ Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a disease which makes the skin sore and scaly. It is thought to be an autoimmunity disease and affects 2-3% of the population. Some patients report that sun exposure eases the symptoms and UVA therapy is one of the most popular and successful treatments for severe cases. This involves taking a medication that makes the skin more sensitive to UV.

However, this treatment is known to increase the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer, which underlines the risks associated with sun exposure.

3/ Vitiligo

Vitiligo is a patchy loss of skin pigmentation caused by destruction of the pigment-producing cells called melanocytes. Like psoriasis, it is considered to be an autoimmune disease which can be treated by the same method – UC therapy incorporating a medication to increase sensitivity. However, this also carries an increased risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma.

4/ Mood

Exposure to sunlight can help to improve mood and also reduce the risk of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression which is associated with lack of sun exposure.

5/ Lupus vulgaris

Lupus vulgaris is tuberculosis of the skin. It used to be common in northern Europe during the winter, causing large ulcers on the face and neck. However, nowadays Lupus is very rare and is usually treated with antibiotics.

So is sun exposure OK?

The WHO (World Health Organisation) advises:

“Despite these important roles and medical applications, the harmful effects of exposure to UV radiation usually far outweigh its benefits. In addition to the well-known short-term effects of overexposure to the sun such as sunburn or allergic reactions, long-term effects pose a life-long hazard to your health. Overexposure to UV radiation affects your skin, your eyes and probably your immune system. Many people forget that the effects of exposure to UV radiation accumulate over a lifetime. Your sun exposure behaviour now determines your chances of developing skin cancer or cataracts later in life! Skin cancer incidence is strongly correlated with the duration and frequency of sun exposure.”

Read in full https://www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/radiation-the-known-health-effects-of-ultraviolet-radiation

Therapeutic uses of the sun cannot eliminate the negative side-effects of UV radiation.

Signs of skin cancer

The first sign of a melanoma is often a new mole or a change in an existing mole. Regular self-checking and vigilance is key. The ABCDE mole checking rules summarise what to look for:

  • Asymmetry – an odd or uneven shape
  • Border – this may be unusually rough or jagged
  • Colour – tends to be particularly dark or blotchy mix of colours
  • Diameter – most melanomas are larger than 6mm (1/4 inch) in diameter
  • Evolving – a mole that has changed in appearance or behaviour (e.g. started to itch or ooze)

Look for change…

Of the above, evolving moles is the most worrying sign. So be alert for any changes in how the mole looks, feels or behaves.

Dr Ross Perry calls it the ugly duckling sign – a mole/moles which are different and ‘odd’. A hunch that it’s not right is best checked out by a GP or mole expert.

Dr Ross Perry, a leading mole removal expert who is the Company’s founder and Medical Director, advises patients to seek medical attention as soon as possible to rule out skin cancer.

Skin Surgery Laser Clinics

Cosmedics’ Skin Surgery Laser Clinic offer private mole removal at a selection of clinics based in London and Bristol. Moles are removed using the latest surgical techniques including laser mole removal; with trained doctors and surgeons.

Our team of qualified and experienced doctors and surgeons also treat other skin blemishes, including sebaceous cystsskin tagswarts and lipoma using  freezing, laser or surgical techniques.

For ultimate peace of mind, Cosmedics Skin Surgery Laser Clinic offer a thorough top to toe mole check carried out by their trained and experienced doctors.

Cosmedics Skin Clinics was founded in 2003 by Dr Ross Perry, a qualified and experienced London GP who has an excellent reputation in skin treatments and has removed thousands of lesions/blemishes in his career.

For more information or to book a consultation, please complete the form on this web page or call 020 7386 0464.