This is how our sun damaged skin looks like under UV lights

Skin is our main line of defence against the harmful UV rays from the sun. We do require a certain amount of sunlight exposure for production of vitamin D in our body, too much of sun may cause untimely aging of the skin and most dangerous of them all, it can even cause skin cancer.

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While damage to the skin is in the form of moles or melanoma and it is obvious to the naked eye, sometimes there can be variations that are only visible when we look through using a UV lens.

1 The project

American portrait photographer Thomas Leveritt used a UV filter on his camera lens to click images and videos of how much harm ultraviolet rays can be to our skin. In the second part, he also documents how effective sun screen skin cream is in protecting our skin from the sunlight.

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Random New York residents were asked to get their photos taken after they had been in sunlight for considerable amount of time during their usual routine. The subjects were than shown their images how they look in UV lights on a monitor.

The subjects, mostly women were shocked to see that their skin, which looks perfect under natural light, alters as the UV filter slides over the camera. The UV filter exposed dark spots and unequal blemishes.

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After this initial shock, Leveritt asks them to apply sunscreen and recheck themselves in the camera one more time. This time they get another shock as the sunscreen looks completely black. This is because sunscreen absorbs UV light and its radiation and hence look black under UV rays filter.

The project

Image Source: www.smh.com.au

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2 Sunlight and skin cancer

Skin cancer can be caused due to prolong exposure to UV rays. These rays are present in sunlight and the artificial tanning beds.

UV rays often have sufficient energy to take away an electron from an atom or molecule, creating a form of ionizing radiation. This ionizing radiation can cause damage to the DNA in cells, which in turn may cause cancer. But since UV rays don’t have the energy required to penetrate into the body, their main effect is seen on the skin.

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Sunlight and skin cancer

Image Source: www.iflscience.com

3 How to avoid skin cancer

One of the simplest ways to avoid exposure to UV rays is to stay in shades and avoid direct sunlight. Protect the skin with clothing and wear a hat if venturing out in direct sunlight. Wear sunglasses with UV protection in order to guard the eyes and the skin around them from sunlight. Try and use a good quality sunscreen to protect skin that isn’t covered with clothing.

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Avoid using artificial tanning beds in order to tan your body. These beds have very high concentration of UV rays and can cause damage to the skin at a much accelerated rate.

How to avoid skin cancer

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4 UV rays

Sunlight is the main source of UV rays. Skin cancer is mostly caused by over exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Other sources of UV rays are artificial tanning lamps and beds. People absorbing a high amount of UV exposure from these sources are at larger risk for skin cancer.

UV rays only form a very small share of the sun’s rays but they play a major role in sun’s damaging effects on the skin. UV rays cause destruction of the DNA of skin cells. Skin cancers start when this damage disturbs the DNA of genes that regulate skin cell growth.

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 UV rays

Image Source: www.umn.edu

There are 3 types of UV rays:

UVA rays : these rays rapidly age skin cells and causes damage to their DNA.

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UVB rays possess more energy than UVA rays. They can directly damage DNA of skin cells and are the main cause of sunburns.

UVC rays have more energy than the other 2 types of UV rays, but they don’t get past our atmosphere and are not in sunlight.

5 The video

The video shows harmful effects of sunlight and UV rays on the skin and also makes a compelling argument for sue of sun screen, but is it for real?

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“The video is definitely a party trick, but in a good way,” says Joshua Zeichner, dermatologist and director of cosmetic research at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. “People hear that they should use sunscreen, but they do not truly believe the harmful effects of UV light on the skin. This shows people what is going on under the skin and gets through to them.”

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