Sun Damage


The sun has both positive and negative health effects on us. The sun can for example provide a healthy dose of Vitamin D or the “sunshine vitamin” that helps us absorb and metabolise calcium and phosphorous.17 On the other hand, it can pose a threat to our skin and health, causing skin cancer, skin aging, immune suppression and cataracts.3

While everyone is at risk, people with lighter pigmented skin are at a higher risk of skin damage from the sun, and should take precautionary steps to minimize the risks associated with overexposure to the sun.1

While we enjoy subtropical weather with long summer days in the sun, the rising rate of the melanoma skin cancer is enough to cause alarm and more reason to be weary of not adequately protecting your skin.1,18 It can take up to only five sunburns in a lifetime to develop cancer and other skin damage.1,8

The following are adverse health effects you could develop from overexposure to the sun:

Nonmelanoma skin cancers

Nonmelanoma skin cancers come in two variations, namely; basal cell carcinomas that appear in the form of small shiny bumps that may break open and form a scab, and squamous cell carcinomas which usually begin as a dome-shaped bump or a red, scaly patch of skin. They are usually rough and crusty, and can bleed easily when scraped.3,19,20,21

Basal Cell Carcinoma 43

Squamous Cell Carcinoma 44

Actinic Keratoses

These usually appear in areas of the body that are highly exposed to the sun such as the face, hands arms and neck.22,23 These growths are usually pink or red and appear as irregular, scaly areas. They may also be light grey or brown and feel hard, rough, or gritty.24,25 Should you spot one, consult your doctor as soon as possible.25

Reference 45

Premature skin aging

With the process of tanning to get that look of youthful skin, you’re actually damaging it to the extent of premature aging, leading to thick, wrinkly and leathery skin and dark spots.25,26


Cataracts occur in the lens of the eyes from UV radiation, and results in cloudy vision, and even the loss of eyesight if not treated.3,25,27

Immune suppression

Overexposure to the sun and tanning beds can cause long lasting damage to your skin and overall health. It may suppress the proper functioning of your body’s immune system and the skin’s natural defences,and diminish the effects of immunisations or cause reactions to certain medications.3,25


Reference 46

Sunburn is the red, sometimes painful skin caused by overexposure to UV radiation. It can vary from being mild to severe causing the skin to blister.12,15

Sunburn can occur in less than 15 minutes, but can take up to 6 hours or longer for you to notice the damage. Redness may appear within 30 minutes, but the pain is most severe 6 to 48 hours after exposure. The burn can continue to develop for 24 to 72 hours, sometimes followed by peeling skin in 3 to 8 days. Some peeling and itching may last for a few weeks.12

Symptoms of sun burn include the following: 12,15

  • Your skin will be red and painful
  • Severe sunburn will result in blisters
  • A fever, nausea and chills in severe cases
  • Your skin will begin to peel in the sunburnt areas a few days after you were burnt

Avoid getting sunburn by applying a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects you from both UVA and UVB sun rays, and a sunscreen with at least an SPF 30 rating.6,11,12,13,15

In addition to using sunscreen timeously, remember to: 1,9,14

  • Wear a hat
  • Wear your sunglasses
  • Stay in the shade when in the outdoors

The app is specifically designed to remind you when to apply your sunscreen according to your skin type and activities.