How Sun Damage Continues Even After Dark

sunset coupleMedia headlines in the last week have put sun damage back in the news with a new research study by researchers at Yale University School of Medicine showing that damage caused by UV exposure to the skin continues for some hours after the exposure has stopped. 

However, this should not be misinterpreted – it doesn’t mean that we can get sunburned in the dark.  The NHS has reported on the research on its own website, saying that

‘some of the headlines were potentially confusing. For example, headlines such as The Daily Telegraph’s “Sunlight damages DNA even in the dark” and The Guardian’s “Exposure to sun poses risk of skin cancer even in the dark” could be taken the wrong way. People may be concerned that when they go out at night, the sun is damaging their skin and they need to cover up.

The results of the study actually suggest that the damage caused by UV exposure to the skin continues for some hours after the exposure has stopped (e.g. after you have come in for the evening, after a day at the beach).’

The lab research used mouse pigment cells and showed that exposure to UV light causes melanin to produce small molecules, called cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPDs), which form abnormal bonds between the “building blocks” in the DNA helix. The research demonstrated that CPD formation continues for 3 or more hours after UV exposure has stopped, after which DNA repair mechanisms step in.

The key message is another reminder of the power of UV exposure, which can be very damaging to the skin and doesn’t stop when you cover up or go indoors.   This highlights the importance of taking safety precautions in the sun year round – avoiding the sun at its peak, covering up sensibly with hats/long sleeved clothing and using a high factor sun protection cream.

Abnormal Moles?

For those who have concerns about sun damage, the message from experts is to seek advice as soon as possible. Any suspicious moles should be shown to a doctor at the earliest opportunity to rule out melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer. The earliest identification of an issue will give the best chance of a good outcome.

Where moles are not deemed ‘suspicious’, many people choose to have them removed for cosmetic reasons. Cosmetic moles cannot unfortunately be removed on the NHS. However, private mole removal is available with organisations such as Skin Surgery Laser Clinic who have a selection of clinics based in London and Bristol. Moles are removed using the latest surgical techniques includinglaser mole removal; with trained doctors and surgeons.

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