Sun Exposure: Weighing the Risks and Benefits for Skin Health and Beyond

The sun, the glowing heart of our solar system, plays a vital role in supporting life on Earth. It provides us with warmth, energy, and essential vitamins like Vitamin D. However, it’s crucial to remember that excessive sun exposure also has its risks – skin cancer, aging, and eye damage. Understanding these risks and how to mitigate them is essential to maintaining your overall health.

Risks of Sun Exposure

Chief among the risks of sun exposure is skin cancer. This disease has three major types: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and the potentially deadly melanoma. All three are largely attributed to UV radiation from the sun. Melanoma, the most dangerous of the three, is often the result of intense, intermittent sun exposure causing sunburn.

In addition to skin cancer, excessive sun exposure can lead to premature skin aging. Sun damage can cause wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, and changes in skin texture. Moreover, UV rays can harm your eyes, leading to conditions like cataracts and macular degeneration, which can impair vision.

Skin Cancer Prevention and Detection

Fortunately, there are multiple preventive measures to limit harmful sun exposure. Regularly using a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30, wearing sun-protective clothing, seeking shade during the sun’s peak hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), and wearing sunglasses that block UV rays can significantly reduce your risk.

Skin cancer is treatable, especially if detected early. Regular skin self-exams can help you notice any new or changing moles or skin spots. Any size, colour, shape, or texture changes can indicate a problem. Moreover, regular skin screenings by healthcare professionals can identify skin cancer in its early stages when it’s most treatable.

Treatment options vary depending on the type and stage of skin cancer, and they may include surgical removal, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, or targeted drug therapy.

Phototherapy and Sunlight for Medical Conditions

While we’ve focused on the risks of sun exposure, it’s essential to acknowledge its therapeutic uses. Phototherapy, or light therapy, uses controlled amounts of sunlight or artificial light to treat several medical conditions.

Psoriasis, a skin disease that causes red, itchy scaly patches, often responds well to controlled UV light exposure, which can slow skin cell turnover. Vitiligo, a condition that causes loss of skin colour in blotches, can also be treated with phototherapy to restore some colour.

In the psychological realm, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons, can be alleviated by light therapy. The light used in this treatment mimics outdoor light and appears to cause a change in brain chemicals linked to mood.


The relationship between our bodies and the sun is complex. It’s our primary source of Vitamin D and can have therapeutic effects on certain conditions. Yet, its UV rays can lead to skin cancer, premature skin aging, and eye damage. The key lies in the balance – embracing the benefits while being aware of the risks and taking the necessary precautions to protect our health. Consult with your healthcare provider about your sun exposure habits and any concerns you may have.

Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


Dr. Rohan Bissoondath,
Medical Director

Return to Article Library

Book a Consult
  • Schedule
    your complimentary

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.