Suntan is pleasant, but…

Solar radiation is essential to ensure proper functioning of our organism. The sun makes us feel good, enables the synthesis of vitamin D3, as well as evokes secretion of multiple hormones. Taking advantage of the sun in a wise manner may become not only a source of pleasure, but also the source of health. However, it is worth remembering that apart from the beneficial action of the sun, it may also cause a multitude of adverse events, sometimes tragic for the human organism.

Suntan is pleasant, but at the same time it also stands as a protective reaction of the organism against UVA and UVB ultraviolet radiation emitted by the sun. UVA radiation constitutes about 95%, whereas UVB represents approximately 5% of the ultraviolet radiation that reaches the Earth. UVB radiation is responsible for pigmentation, namely evoking the suntan effect. It dilates capillaries and stimulates blood inflow, which results in redness. It causes irritations and sunburns. UVA radiation causes tan, but it does not cause irritations and burns, and therefore its influence is frequently unnoticed. This radiation has a lower energy, yet longer wavelength than UVB, and hence it reaches deeper layers of the skin and damages collagen and elastin fibres, releases a greater number of free radicals and leads to DNA damages. Unfortunately, it is the UVA radiation that is found responsible for photo-ageing, photo-allergic reactions, as well as skin cancers. That is why, it is essential not to exceed the maximal dose of UV radiation a year. Individual sensitivity of a human being to solar radiation depends on the type of complexion a person has. It is particularly important to take cautious use of tanning beds. The dose of UVA radiation in most lamps used in tanning beds is twice higher than the dose of this radiation in the normal sunlight. This means that our skin will experience 15 minutes spent in the tanning bed as a whole day spent in the sun.

Prolonged exposure of the body to UV radiation, sunbathing under the highest degree of incident radiation (at noon, next to the water, in the mountains) or using a tanning bed often leads to sunburns. This is particularly the case among the majority of people with light complexion, since they have a low amount of melatonin, a pigment that protects the skin against solar radiation. It is best to avoid any kinds of sunburns, whether on the beach or in the tanning bed.