For once, some good news for sun worshipers. Investigators at the Harvard-affiliated Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston provided reasons to be less paranoid about tanning. In an upcoming edition of the Harvard Health Letter, researchers clarified that a suntan is the body’s best effort to guard against the known cancerous effects of ultraviolet (UV) light, not a mere symbol irreparable skin damage.
As ultraviolet light penetrates the skin, it mutates DNA. This mini mutation helps create that sun kissed look that no tan-in-a-tube can emulate. While this is good news for seasonal beach bums, it’s spectacular news for acne sufferers.
For years, tanning has served as an anecdotal cure for acne. But who wants to treat acne with sunshine if this therapy could cause skin cancer years later? Now that medical insights reveal sunbathing with an 45 SFP sunscreen significantly reduces cancer risk, acne sufferers can enjoy a free solar acne treatment, minus the cancer threat.
Using the Sun as an Acne Treatment Acne lesions can form from a motley of bodily processes including hormonal fluctuations, dietary allergies, improper skin shedding and an encumbered immune system.
When acne pustules grow into large, inflamed and painful lesions, it’s because agents called Langerhans cells are responding to the irritating oils, hairs and debris trapped within the developing pimple.
Yet something unorthodox happens when you put a pimple in the sun. The bacterium called Propionibacterium acnes, which is readily implicated in causing acne, produces an inflammation taming agent called porphyrin. These porphyrins can in reduce the presence of Langerhans cells in the skin. With fewer Langerhans cells circulating, an inflammatory response becomes less likely, as does the chances of experiencing acne lesions.
Most likely, skipping the sunscreen will leave you to inherit skin that looks like a dried up river. But when combined with adequate protection, the sun transforms into serious skin care capable of healing a body ravaged by acne.
Here’s how to implement your own day-the-sun natural acne treatment:
1. Purchase a non-pore clogging (noncomedogenic) sunscreen with at least an SPF of 45.
2. Apply the sunscreen according the manufacturer’s instructions, which usually means applying the lotion 20 minutes prior to sun exposure.
3. Use the Environmental Protection Agency’s website to check the UV Index in your area and ensure that you won’t get seared on your tanning day.
4. Enjoy the sun and watching those zits dissipate.
5. After sunbathing, soothe your skin with an aloe vera gel.
Harvard Health Publications. Could a Suntan be Protective? Newswise, July 13, 2007.
Hayami, Junji; Hiroyuki Okamoto, Akira Sugihara & Takeshi Horio. Immunosuppressive effects of photodynamic therapy by topical aminolevulinic acid. The Journal of Dermatology; May 2007, vol 34, no 5, pp 320327.