Let's Talk About the Skin

A soft, smooth and attractive skin is the pride of many especially the female folks. Lots of time and
attention is given to ensure that it turns out good to the eyes of admirers. It is good to note that the skin is not just an outer covering to the body but also protects the body from pathogens in the environment and from extreme water loss.  The outer layer of the skin that forms a protective layer on the body’s surface is the epidermis. It serves as a barrier to infection and the melanin produced in its basal layer protects the skin from damage from ultraviolet rays. The epidermis also contains a thick pigment – keratin which protects the skin from heat and cold. The skin plays a role in temperature regulation, sensation. Together with the skin, small amounts of UV rays from the sun are involved in the synthesis of vitamin D which is essential in the strengthening of the bones and the inhibition of some cancers.
The UV rays could also be used in the treatment of eczema, psoriasis, jaundice and rickets.  However  overexposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun or tanning beds can result in some health effects such as sun burn, immune suppression and loss of skin elasticity (aging).
The ultraviolet rays (UV rays) from the sun contain UVA, UVB and UVC rays. The UVA rays could pierce through the skin’s surface to the dermis causing dark patches, wrinkles, loose skin and premature aging while the UVB rays cause sunburn and eye problems. They are both known as environmental human carcinogen because they have the ability to damage DNA - increasing the risk of a skin cancer.  Skin cancer could either be melanoma or non-melanoma.
 Primarily, skin cancer occurs more on areas of the skin that is exposed to the sun but it may also occur in areas not exposed to the sun. The major risk factor for skin cancer is exposure to UV rays. The risk factors are increased in those who
Ø  Are exposed to toxic substances such as arsenic compounds.
Ø  Live in hot climates or high altitudes.
Ø  Have had lots of sunburns.
Ø  Have lots of moles on skin.
Ø  Are fair skinned
Ø  Have a personal or family history of skin cancer.
Therefore to protect the skin from the negative effects of ultraviolet rays, it is important to
·         Use a sunscreen all over the body
·         Wear clothings that cover up the body.
·         Seek shade or use an umbrella when the sun is up
·         Wear a hat and use sunglasses.
Early detection aids treatments so, monitor your skin daily and report changes to your doctor.
 By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi

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