Every day, researchers come up with new studies that document the fact that teens are fighting shy of sunscreens. Teenagers have ignored the possible harmful consequences of not using sunscreens and continue to do so. This paper not only attempts to find the reasons of this careless behaviour of teenagers regarding sun protection, but it also explains the negative consequences of failure to adopt sunscreens in routine life. These results have been further categorized into short-term and long-term effects in order to capture the severity of the matter at hand.
The excuses that teenagers find and hold on to in order to escape the use of sunscreens ranges from baseless ones to ones that are based on misconceptions. They are partly propelled by vanity to avoid sun protection as they think they look good with a tan (Song). However, teens who think like this can easily be made to see the truth if they are told the long-term effects of sun exposure that include saggy and leathery skin (Repinski). Researchers in the field of dermatology have stressed to need to change this attitude of teens as according to one such researcher, this age of the concerned individuals is “an inflection point” for their health behaviours (Song).
Moreover, some teenagers refuse to apply sunscreens on the pretext that the chemicals used in the sunscreens are probably more harmful than being exposed to the sun. However, doctors have negated such assumptions as no correlation has been found between the use of sunscreens and skin cancer (Lim and Wang). Such conclusions are based on animal data that have no relation to humans (Repinski).
Furthermore, sunscreens are said to be too expensive. It has been proven that there is no link between the price of a sunscreen product and the protection it offers (Repinski). The only thing that has to be checked is that the product offers protection from both Ultraviolet A and Ultraviolet B rays. Moreover, some teenagers say that they do not get a lot of sun and thus, they do not need sun protection. However, they need to be reminded that they receive fourteen hours of casual ultraviolet radiation exposure per week (Repinski). They do not only need to be sunbathing to be exposed to harmful rays. Exposure in routine life is enough to cause a fair amount of damage to their skin.
After addressing the groundless justifications given by teenagers, it is pertinent to mention the adverse effects of unprotected sun exposure. One of the most immediate consequences and the one with which we all are familiar is sunburn. Sunburn is the damage to the skin that is caused by ultraviolet rays (“Sunburn”). The skin turns red and painful, which can later cause “peeling or blistering” (“Sunburn”). It usually occurs at the time of the day when sun’s rays are very strong. The severity of the sunburn depends on the type of skin and the duration of exposure to the ultraviolet rays. However, by selecting a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least fifteen, sunburn can be avoided.
Another immediate effect includes skin discoloration. In this condition, the skin becomes darkened in certain areas or patches (“Skin Discoloration”). These patches are caused due to the collection of pigments called melanin. Skin discoloration can affect anyone, but those with lighter skin are more vulnerable. Age spots, melasma and freckles are common types of skin discoloration (“Skin Discoloration”).
Freckles are small spots of brown color that are usually found on the face and arms (“Moles, Freckles and Skin Tags”). They are harmless, but it is best to prevent their development by reducing exposure to the sun or by using sunscreens with the appropriate sun protection factor. Melasma causes brown color to appear over the nose, cheeks, forehead or upper lip. Like freckles, both melasma and age spots can be prevented by the use of sunscreens.
After throwing light on the short-term effects of not using sunscreen, it is appropriate to mention the long-term consequences. One of the most frightening consequences is the increased rate of ageing of the skin that is caused by prolonged and repeated sun exposure (McCoy). Fine lines and wrinkles can be created. The skin gives a tough and leathery feel and begins to look dry and rough. Thus, the skin ages prematurely. This phenomenon is known as photoaging. Photoaging is mainly caused by Ultraviolet A rays that have a longer wavelength than UV B or C rays. Again, use of sunscreen has proven to be very effective against such damage. Moreover, dermatologists encourage the use of protective clothing like full-sleeved shirts, long pants and sunglasses to further lessen the chances of being victims of such harmful consequences.
Moreover, as terrifying as it may sound, excessive sun exposure over many years and refusal to use sunscreen can ultimately lead to skin cancer (“Skin Cancer and Sunlight”). Three different types of skin cancers that are known to have a relation with sun’s rays are basal cell cancer, squamous cell cancer and malignant melanoma. Basal cell cancer is mostly easily cured or treated, but there is always a chance that it may spread, and the situation may become grave. It appears in the form of a wound. Squamous cell cancer can be treated if it is diagnosed in time. It develops in areas that have already been damaged by the sun and eventually, it also takes the form of wounds. Malignant melanoma is a life-threatening cancer that usually spreads. It can be treated when it is in its early stages but if not caught in time, it can prove fatal. In this condition, usually a mole or a pigment begins to grow, bleed or change its texture (“Skin Cancer and Sunlight”). Therefore, continued exposure to the sun can prove to be fatal for individuals.
In this context, it is imperative that teens be educated about the dangerous consequences they may have to face if they continue to ignore the importance of sunscreens. I will surely communicate this message to all my family members and friends because as the axiom goes, ‘prevention is better than cure.' If severe problems like skin cancer are developed, it not only proves to be a financial burden but it may also result in the death of a loved one. We should not try to rob ourselves of our own good health because as long as we are healthy, we can enjoy every day of our life.
Lim, Henry W., and Steven Q. Wang. “The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Guide to Sunscreens.” Skincancer.org. Skin Cancer Foundation, Inc., n.d. Web. 17 May 2014.
McCoy, Krisha. “The Aging Effects of UV Rays.” Everydayhealth.com. Everyday Health, Inc., n.d. Web. 17 May 2014.
“Moles, Freckles and Skin Tags.” Webmd.com. WebMD, n.d. Web. 17 May 2014.
Repinski, Karyn. “No More Excuses for Not Wearing Sunscreen.” Health.yahoo.net. Healthline, 18 May 2011. Web. 17 May 2014.
“Skin Cancer and Sunlight.” Ccohs.ca. Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, 2 April 2012. Web. 17 May 2014.
“Skin Discoloration”. Brecksvilledermatology.com. Brecksville Dermatology, n.d. Web. 17 May 2014.
Song, Sora. “Why Teens Sunbathe More, Use Sunscreen Less.” Healthland.time.com. Time, Inc., 23 Jan. 2012. Web. 17 May 2014.
“Sunburn.” Nhs.uk. NHS Choices, n.d. Web. 17 May 2014.