The Sun and Your Skin

The sun is good for many things- it makes the flowers grow, warms the earth, provides light, and gives our body the ability to produce vitamin D needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles. If you live in Canada, in cities such as Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, Grande Prairie or any other city, the summertime can be short and sweet. However, the sun can also have negative effects on your skin because of its harmful radiation. The sun’s ultraviolet A (UVA) rays are called the “aging” rays. UVA can cause wrinkles, age spots, and tanning. The ultraviolet B (UVB) rays are known as the “burning” rays because UVB rays cause sunburns. Both types of UV rays reach the earth every day. Even on a cloudy day, ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage our skin.


Without protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays, the following can occur:


Too many sunburns or sunburns that blister increases your risk of developing skin cancer- most of the time, it occurs when we are young but the damage has already been done. Avoiding sunburns is important. If you do get a sunburn, many people get relief from cool, wet compresses/baths and soothing lotions. When a fever, chills, upset stomach, or confusion develops, you may need immediate medical attention. As we grow older, the effects of sunburns present itself even though as adults we may be more conscious of the suns effects- we cannot reverse the damage that has already occurred.


Tanning is often mistaken as a sign of good health and prosperity. What a tan actually means is that the skin has been injured. A tan develops when the skin tries to protect itself from harmful UV rays, producing more pigment to protect itself. Indoor tanning is NOT and never has been a safe option for sun exposure. Indoor tanning equipment, including tanning beds and sun lamps, give off harmful UV radiation that has been directly linked to skin cancer. This radiation can be stronger than that given off by the sun. Whether the radiation comes from indoor tanning or the sun, it increases a person’s risk of developing skin cancer, including melanoma. There is no such thing as a “safe” tan.


Exposure to UV rays makes skin tough, wrinkled and leathery- think of your parents old leather couch; this is what your skin could feel like from the effects of the sun. It makes a person’s skin age more quickly than normal. Skin exposed to the sun can develop large freckles, age spots, wrinkles, and sun-damaged spots known as actinic keratoses (AKs). Although not cancer yet, AKs are considered an early stage or “precancerous” in the development of skin cancer. At RejuvaDERM, we have many treatments, procedures and products to help reduce wrinkles, reverse and improve the effects of sun damaged skin.


Most skin cancers develop on areas of the skin that get years of sun exposure, like the face, neck, ears, forearms, hands, and trunk. Basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas are the most common form of skin cancers caused by the sun, but melanomas are the deadliest.

  • Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) look like flesh-colored, pearly bumps, or pinkish patches on the skin. BCCs frequently develop in people who have lighter skin but can occur on anyone. With early treatment, this type of cancer can be cured. Left untreated, BCC can cause bleeding and severe, local damage, which can be disfiguring.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) can look like a red scaly patch, a raised, firm bump, or a sore that never heals. People who have lighter skin are most likely to develop SCC, but can also develop in any individual. With early detection and proper treatment, SCCs also have high cure rates. Left untreated, SCC can also be disfiguring. In rare cases, untreated SCC can spread to other areas of the body and can be deadly.
  • Melanoma may develop in a mole or it can appear on the skin as a new, dark spot. Sometimes melanoma contains shades of red, blue, or white. When found early, melanoma often can be cured. Left untreated, melanoma can spread to other areas of the body and be deadly. One person dies of melanoma every hour.

For some people, sun exposure causes an allergic reaction. Common signs of a sun allergy are bumps, hives, blisters, and red blotches on the skin minutes or hours after. People taking certain medications can develop a rash after being out in the sun. Medications that interact with UV light and can cause this reaction include birth control pills, antibiotics, and medications for treating blood pressure, arthritis, and depression.

Sun exposure also can worsen some diseases. People who have lupus or cold sores should protect their skin from the sun. If a flare-up occurs, be sure to consult a Dermatologist.


  • Generously apply a water-resistant sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 50 that provides broad-spectrum protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays to all exposed skin- think of a ’shot glass’ amount for your body. Reapply every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating. Look for the CDA or AAD SEAL OF RECOGNITIONTM on products that meet these criteria.
  • Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses, where possible.
  • Seek shade when appropriate, remembering that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.
  • Protect children from sun exposure by playing in the shade, using protective clothing, and applying sunscreen.  Sunscreen use is safe over the age of 6 months; in less than 6 months, use sun protective clothing, sunglasses.
  • Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand because they reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn. Even during winter, you can still get sun damage!
  • Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet that may include vitamin or vitamin D supplements. Don’t seek the sun.
  • Avoid tanning beds. Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer including melanoma and wrinkling. If you want to look like you’ve been in the sun, consider using a sunless self-tanning product, but continue to use sunscreen with it.
  • Check your skin monthly. If you notice anything changing, growing, or bleeding on your skin, see your Dermatologist. Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early.


If you notice that a mole differs from another or a spot on your skin changes, itches, or bleeds (even if it is small) or is painful, immediately make an appointment to see a Dermatologist. These changes can be signs of skin cancer. With early detection and treatment, skin cancer has a high cure rate.

If you dislike signs of aging that appear on your skin, you also may want to see a Dermatologist. RejuvaDERM Dermatologists can also tell you about the different options to treat or help reduce the signs of skin aging.

RejuvaDERM Dermatologists recommend their patients wear broad-spectrum sunscreens at least SPF 30, ideally higher if possible. Most people do not apply ENOUGH sunscreen, so using SPF 50 or 60 in most people is probably the benefit of SPF 30.

For sunscreen and other products to help protect and rejuvenate your skin, please visit our website HERE

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