Under one Skin tanning the natural pigmentation of the skin is understood. However, excessive tan is harmful.
Skin tanning is the natural pigmentation of the skin. However, excessive tan is harmful.
Skin tanning is a strategy used by human skin to create protection against ultraviolet radiation. There is a risk of skin damage from the UV rays.
To a certain extent, tanning the skin can provide protection from the sun's rays. Various systems within the skin cells attempt to repair damage caused by UV radiation. However, it takes a period of two to three weeks for the skin's own protection, which consists of tanning and light calluses, to build up.
People perceive tanning positively for cultural reasons - it wasn't always like that. However, tanning is about limiting the damage to the body.
The skin tan caused by the influence of the sun is viewed by scientists as an evolutionary trick used for adaptation. Without the skin turning tan, man would not have been able to survive his wanderings through the world over the past decades, which led him from Africa to the north and east.
In contrast to most animal species, humans do not have fur or plumage. A protective screen built into the skin serves as protection against the harmful UV radiation of the sun. This is formed by the interaction of different mechanisms.
First of all, the topmost horny layer of the skin is thickened by the sun's rays, which leads to the development of light calluses. The light callus has the task of reflecting and scattering the incident light, which to a certain extent leads to a radiation barrier. On the other hand, pigment cells are increasingly formed.
These melanocytes in turn produce the brownish-black pigment melanin. This substance causes the skin to darken by wrapping itself around the skin cell nuclei. In this way they can be protected from the UV rays. The higher the melanin production, the darker the skin appears. However, as this process takes a certain amount of time, the tan only becomes noticeable after two to four days.
In addition, there is a self-protection time for the skin, which also works without the development of melanin and light calluses. How long the self-protection time lasts depends on the respective skin type. It only takes around three minutes for very light skin types. However, if there is already a pre-tanning, the self-protection time can be extended somewhat. A significant increase in self-protection is possible by using sunscreen.
The tanning of the skin is caused by the influence of light and other factors. This includes salt spray, wind and even rain. These influences cause a mild irritation to the skin. Another positive effect of sunbathing is the supply of vitamin D, because the need can be covered by ultraviolet light.
For the most part, people consider skin tanning to be positive. Numerous sun worshipers lie in the sun outdoors so that their skin tans. Others, on the other hand, regularly visit tanning salons or use solariums, where they let artificial UV rays act on them. The tan is considered healthy and corresponds to the common western ideal of beauty. However, skin tan has only been viewed positively in western countries since the 20th century. Before that, a tanned skin was more a characteristic of the working class, who had to toil outdoors, while the nobility presented themselves elegantly pale.
Although tanned skin is rated positively by most people, it is not always a sign of health. Even trying to get a tan can damage the skin, such as sunburn. Acute skin inflammation is caused by excessive sunlight. Usually it is accompanied by pain, redness, itching and swelling. Occasionally, bubbles can also develop. The peak of the sunburn shows up after a day or two. It usually disappears after 14 days.
In some cases, the longing for tanned skin can even be addicting. Doctors then speak of a tanning addiction or tanorexia. The life of tanning addicts is determined by the urge to keep tanning their skin. So they use every opportunity to sunbathe outdoors or in the solarium. If they fail to do this, they show real withdrawal symptoms. These include sleep disorders, nervousness, and depression. Only after extensive sunbathing does the mood of a tanorexic improve again. Even if there is already an extensive tan, many affected still consider themselves too pale and therefore unattractive. The self-esteem of tanning addicts is extremely dependent on their skin tan. For this reason, some tanorexics even visit a tanning salon every day.
However, the consequences of excessive tanning are serious. This leads to faster aging of the skin and more pigment spots appear. The development of these spots also increases the risk of skin cancer, as UV light can cause them to degenerate into malignant melanoma. In order to reduce the risk of skin cancer, the German Cancer Aid recommends more health-conscious behavior when sunbathing. Every year in Germany there are over 200,000 new cases of skin cancer. More than 2000 people die from it every year.