Ultraviolet radiation can cause serious harm to human skin. Both UVA and UVB types of radiation may lead to skin problems ranging from early aging issues, reduced immunity against infections, and skin cancers. Although the connection between UV radiation and skin damage is not yet clearly understood by scientists, but studies indicate that UV may cause breakdown of collagen, inhibition of the immune system, interference with DNA repair, and formation of free radicals.
Breakdown of Collagen
UV radiation leads to more rapid breakdown of collagen compared to what chronological aging would do. Direct sun exposure damages collagen fibers and leads to an abnormal accumulation of elastin. Over a period of time, it results in the development of wrinkles and lines on the skin.
Creation of Free Radicals
UV radiation causes the creation of free radicals that can damage the skin cells and alter DNA material. Free radical formation activates the cells that break down collagen. As a result, the skin starts losing its holding structure and wrinkles and folds are caused. Free radicals can also lead to skin cancer because of their effect on genetic material.
Skin Texture Changes
UV radiation exposure can cause the skin to become thicker or thinner than usual. Coarse wrinkles on the back of the neck are caused due to thick skin. Fine wrinkles, skin tearing, and easy bruising are caused due to thin skin. Skin discoloration can also take place due to UV exposure.
Walls of blood vessels can become thin due to UV radiation exposure. This can cause easy bruising in the affected areas of the skin. Frequent injuries can spoil the smooth skin and result in scars formation. Tiny blood vessels similar to spider webs can also appear on the facial skin.
Freckles on the skin are the most noticeable form of sun-induced pigmentation change. Sun exposure causes damage to melanocytes, which are the melanin producing cells. This causes the formation of freckles, which are more pronounced in fair-skinned people. Larger sized freckles, which are also known as liver spots or age spots can also be seen on arms, shoulders and back.
Formation of Skin Bumps
UV radiation exposure leads to an increased growth of moles in the sun-damaged areas. Pre-cancerous lesions may also occur, particularly on the face, ears, and hands. One of out a hundred cases of such pre-cancerous lesions will progress into squamous cell carcinoma. Wart-like lesions that appear to be stuck with the skin are also caused due to UV exposure.