Get help from best doctors, anonymously
Common Specialities
{{speciality.keyWord}}
Common Issues
{{issue.keyWord}}
Common Treatments
{{treatment.keyWord}}

Prolonged Sun Exposure - How It Can Damage Your Skin?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Sreelatha Murugappan 90% (398 ratings)
MBBS, M.Med.Sci Cosmetology, Ph.D Cosmetology(prel)
Cosmetic/Plastic Surgeon, Chennai  •  26 years experience
Prolonged Sun Exposure - How It Can Damage Your Skin?

A little bit of sun is always good for you and you do need sunlight for your body to process vitamin D, which is necessary for bone health. At the same time, the ultraviolet rays from the sun can be detrimental for your health. While being in the sun is not a bad thing, how long you stay in the sun and how well you are protecting yourself count. Prolonged and unprotected sun exposure harms your skin and can decrease the immunity function of the skin.

Some effects of sun exposure include:

  1. Development of cancerous and non-cancerous skin lesions
  2. Benign tumours
  3. Coarse and fine wrinkles
  4. Freckles
  5. Mottled pigmentation (Skin discoloration in certain areas)
  6. Sallowness (The colour of the skin turns yellow)
  7. Telangiectasia (Expansion of blood vessels under your skin)
  8. Elastosis (Destruction of the collagen and elastic tissue)


The most harmful effect of sun exposure is definitely skin cancer. It is the uncontrolled development of anomalous skin cells is skin cancer. This accelerated development leads to formation of tumours, which are either malignant (cancerous) or benign (noncancerous). Skin cancer is mainly of 3 types: basal cell carcinoma, melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Among these, squamous cell and basal cell carcinoma are less critical; while melanoma is very serious. When melanoma is left untreated, it can affect the other organs and get difficult to treat. UV rays are the major causes of skin cancer. Sun exposure over the years leads to squamous cell and basal cell carcinoma, while severe sun damage episodes before the age of 18 cause melanoma.


Here are some tips to prevent sun damage:

  1. Always apply sunscreen 20 minutes before you go out, even if it is cloudy. A sunscreen with SPF of 30 or more, and zinc oxide is advisable if you want optimum sun protection. Also, you should reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, especially if you are swimming or sweating.
  2. Select cosmetic products, contact lenses and clothing that offer protection from UV rays.
  3. Choose sunglasses that offer total protection from UV rays. Also, wear a hat with a wide brim to shade your neck and face.
  4. Avoid direct exposure during harsh hours like between 10.00 and 3.00PM. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a Cosmetic/Plastic Surgeon.
3495 people found this helpful