No Such Thing as a Healthy Tan

tan.jpgDid you know that there is no such thing as a “healthy tan”? That summer glow is actually a sign that your skin cells are in trauma and trying to protect themselves from more damage.

The sun’s ultraviolet radiation damages your skin cells every time you get a tan or a sunburn. This damage is irreversible. Over time, your skin begins to show signs of premature ageing such as wrinkles, skin lines, moles and sun spots. “Laughter lines” on your face aren’t caused by laughter – they are a result of too much sun.

Sunscreen is not a cure to sun over-exposure, as it tends to be used incorrectly. The average adult requires about seven tablespoons of sunscreen for complete coverage, and this must be applied 20 minutes before going out in the sun. The product must be SPF 30 or higher and reapplied every two hours, regardless of what the label says.

Exposure to UV radiation also causes skin cancer. Every time you get a tan or a sunburn, you increase your risk of developing the disease which affects around 750,000 Australians every year. Two in three Australians will get skin cancer by the age of 70, and most skin cancers develop in adulthood from exposure to UV radiation as a child. The affects of that “healthy tan” aren’t always obvious until later in life when the damage is already done.

Once a tan or sunburn has occurred, the best defence against skin cancer is early diagnosis. Regular skin checks can help ensure the disease is caught early when you have the best chance of successful treatment.