Sun tanning is a process where the skin colour is darkened. This is actually a protective measure of our body to reduce the harmful effects of the sunlight. Sunlight is a rich source of ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays, apart from sunlight this rays are emitted by many artificial light sources though the intensities are less. Sunlight can be useful as well as harmful. Moderate exposure of sunlight helps in vitamin D synthesis, melanin production i.e tanning which is helpful in preventing skin related cancers. Harmful effects of sunlight includes burns, increases risk of cutaneous malignancies, photo-aging of skin etc. Indians are often obsessed by fair skin, hence tanned skin is not acceptable here, and there is an increased demand for products which either prevents tanning or treats pigmentation. Exposure in the early morning is good for health in terms of vitamin D synthesis, beyond which there is exponential increase in harmful effects due to UV A rays.
So how do we avoid tanning?
The answer is very simple, though difficult to practice. Just avoid sun exposure. It is not easy to avoid sun exposure on a daily basis, hence finding some of the efficient physical measures is the next best alternative like wide brimmed hats, umbrellas, scarves, caps, full sleeved garments, socks, gloves etc. Apart from this, wide spectrum sunscreens with spf more than 16 are useful, sunscreen should be applied in the right quantity and it should be repeated at an interval of 3 hours. Sunscreens can be physical or chemical, both are equally good but physical sunscreens are mostly used in children as it is safe. Apart from this maintaining a healthy diet by consuming diet rich in antioxidants like fresh fruits, green tea can further help in reducing harmful effects of sunlight.
So how do we treat it?
Coming to the treatment aspect of tanned skin, we have variety of options like depigmenting creams, lasers, chemical peels, microdermabrasion etc, and again treatment depends on the intensity of tanning, skin type etc. After treatment it is important to again maintain the skin by regular application of sunscreen.