Skin Ed 101: UV, blue light, Ageing, Tropics and Dermat!
Taj Prabhugaunker, Final year MBBS student
Goa Medical College and Hospital
What you are, is a human being.
Sensitive and alive, with genius inside of you.
Not only that, but you are one of a kind and so is your skin; the largest organ in your body.
Broadly, there are 6 types of skin!
- Sensitive / Acne prone
And yours may probably fit into one of these.
Although combination type is the most common, it looks different from person to person: you might have an oily T-zone (nose, forehead or chin) but dry skin everywhere else, or you might be dry and sensitive only in certain concentrated spots—say, around the eyes or mouth. Some areas of combination skin tolerate products better, while other zones might appear irritated, overly oily, or dry after using cleansers, moisturizers, or masks.
Exploring the ‘What’s’ of skin damage:
While we often gloat over the exotic tans here, skin and soft tissue infections are a common etiology of morbidity in countries with a tropical climate, not only for the locals but also a cause of concern in travellers returning from tropical areas. Still in doubt? Impetigo, superficial bacterial infections, cellulitis- usually after insect bites. Ecthyma, folliculitis, carbuncles, and tropical ulcers, are just the tip of the iceberg. Hence, one needs to know the apt wound care and local hygiene practices besides the sensitivity to topical antimicrobials, to effectively tackle the same and can help prevent recurrent bouts of skin infections.
Pollutants are one of the most dangerous yet generously concealed threats to skin. Often unveiled at a later stage post significant damage:
- Acne, hyperpigmentation, atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis have been shown to be influenced by air pollution.
- When a lot of pollutants are present in water for a long time, it turns acidic. Acidic water disrupts the pH balance of your skin by stripping away the protective layer from your skin, making the skin prone to infections
- A balanced diet is of paramount importance to the skin and food adulterants & pollutants often cause deficiency of the viral micronutrients and amino acids in the body.
We’ve all had a basic understanding that UV radiations emitted from sunlight are THE chief cause of skin cancers. Yet, it’s important to understand that this change isn’t overnight and one needs to be aware of the slow worsening that our skin goes through to reach this devastating feit and where one can seek timely intervention to reverse/stop them.
UV rays come not only from the sun but also from artificial sources like tanning beds and can cause sunburn leading to premature aging of the skin and signs of sun damage such as wrinkles, leathery skin, liver spots, actinic keratosis and solar elastosis.
Now, let me test you.
What do you think is the most bewitching radiation playing its toxic tricks on your skin?
– UV light? That’s old school. It’s BLUE LIGHT!
When it comes to skin aging, UV light is a known significant contributor – but research & clinical evidence are rising against blue light, a form of visible light also known as high-energy visible (HEV) light. This form of light is the short-wavelength blue/violet band of the visible light spectrum and makes up about 35% of the sun’s electromagnetic radiation.
Although you’d think that there’s no way possible you’d be exposed to such deadly rays, that’s far from the truth. Blue rays are a part of the most common necessities of your life that you probably can’t live without- sunlight, most electronic devices and of course, your SMARTPHONE!
And what’s so worrying about these rads?
They penetrate the skin, generate free radicals and break down collagen. At higher doses, it increases hyperpigmentation, especially in deeper skin tones. The available research on these is quite nascent and more needs to be delved into.
But how do we act on it? (Other than keeping away from electronic devices, that’s just not practical isn’t it¿)
- Start wearing a physical/mineral sunscreen that contains zinc Oxide, like invisible physical Defense SPF30. These help to protect the skin against blue light and UV rays.
- But, you and I both know that sunlight and our beloved devices tend to be exposed to skin irrespective of us being indoors or outdoors. So it’s important to protect your skin even if you’re indoors most of the day.
- In addition to the above, supplementing our skin with antioxidants such as matcha green tea, and vitamins E & A that counter free radical damage from UV or blue light.
And, you’re good to go!