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Facts about Skin and how we get Suntans

Your skin is the largest organ in your body and also the most versatile. Just think! Your skin is responsible for holding everything else together. EPIDERMIS From head to toe it protects all the muscles, bones and all other organs. What does it protect them from? Sun, injury, variance of air temperature, and infection come to mind immediately. In addition it has the job of storing body fat, producing vitamin D and regulating body temperature. Skin is made up of three layers known as the epidermis, dermis and subcutis. The epidermis is the outer layer and is made up of squamous cells, which sit on basal cells which are layered over melanocytes. Melanocytes are the cells that produce melanin which causes them to darken as the first defense against sun damage. The dermis is comprised of blood vessels, lymphatic vessels, hair follicles and glands which work together to protect the epidermis from air temperature changes and drying out. The subcutis layer is defense for the other organs.


More Skin Facts


Are you a fair skinned blonde with green eyes who wonders why her friend who is fair skinned with brown hair and brown eyes tans while you burn? Well the answer may be found in your skin type classification. Skin color is not the only factor that dictates how your skin will react to the sun. Surprise! Eye color and hair color also have a say in the matter.


* Phototype I is the fair skinned blonde with green or blue eyes but she may also have red hair and the despised freckles. The chances this person will tan is very unlikely, burn is more this types fate. Susceptible to skin damage, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma you are more prone to melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, so an SPF 30 or higher is recommended for you. It is recommended that you not spend a lot of time in the sun and invest in UV clothing for summertime or if you enjoy outdoor winter sports.


* Phototype II is also fair skinned with light hair and blue or brown eyes. Still a burn hazard but is able to obtain a light tan safely, if careful. You also need to follow the same guidelines as the Phototype I individual.


* Phototype III is our fair skinned brown haired brown eyed friend whose chance of a burn is lessened and ability to obtain a respectable tan is increased. You have the same concerns as I and II except that you are safe using an SPF 15.


* Phototype IV has brown to dark skin with dark brown hair and dark brown eyes. This lucky person has a minimal chance of a burn and a very good chance for a nice dark tan. This type is also able to use an SPF as low as a 15.


* Phototype V has brown to dark skin with dark brown or black hair and dark brown eyes. This is the friend who never burns and has the most gorgeous dark brown tan. Envy ensues. You are also safe using an SPF 15 but you have a concern which is more prevalent in your skin type. A type of skin cancer known as Acral lentiginous melanoma is most often found in people of these last two skin types. The biggest problem is that it occurs most often in areas that receive the least sun. These are people of African, Asian or Latino descent.


* Phototype VI has the dark brown to black skin with dark brown or black hair and dark brown eyes. This person NEVER burns and is very dark. That said, this person is just as susceptible to skin cancer but not to the degree that the fair skinned people are. Also the same concern for the Acral lentiginous melanoma type of skin cancer should be observed.


Knowing your skin type can help you decide on the measures necessary to spend time in the sun safely. Remember 10A to 4P is prime sun time and the time for sunscreens, hats, UV blocking sunglasses and shade breaks.



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