Sunbathing and sun exposure can put you at risk for serious medical problems. Damage to the skin, including abnormal discoloration, wrinkling, or skin cancer, can result from overexposure to the sun. The sun's ultraviolet (UV) light can damage the layers of the skin. Over time, this damage shows up as sagging, stretched, wrinkled skin. The UV light from the sun can also cause irregular pigmentation of the skin. This causes the skin tone to appear uneven or discoloured.
Chronic sun damage refers to gradual changes in the skin caused by an accumulation of sun exposure throughout one’s life. The resulting cosmetic change in the skin’s appearance is called photo aging, and is characterized by:
• Solar lentigos (brown spots)
• Diffuse redness
• Telangiectasia (tiny red veins)
• Fine lines and deep wrinkles
Chronic sun damage may also lead to pre-cancerous lesions, and eventually skin cancer. The evidence is very strong that UV light is responsible for most of the changes considered to be associated with skin aging.