Tanning or Burning

Although a glowing tan may look good, it is not an indicator of good health. In fact, the sun exposure you get when tanning causes damage to your skin. Some physicians consider tanning a response to injury because it appears after the sun's ultraviolet rays have killed some skin cells on contact and damaged others. The penetration of UV rays to the skin's inner layer is what results in the production of more melanin -- the substance in your skin that makes it look tan. The melanin eventually moves toward the outer layers of the skin and becomes visible as a tan.

Whether you burn or tan when you are exposed to the sun depends on many factors including skin type, the time of year, and the amount of sun you have been exposed to. The skin's susceptibility to burning is classified on a five-point scale:

 Skin Type 

 Tanning and burning History      

 I  Always burns, never tans, sensitive to sun exposure
 II  Burns easily, tans minimally
 III  Burns moderately, tans gradually to light brown
 IV  Burns minimally, always tans well to moderately brown
 V  Rarely burns, tans profusely to dark
 VI  Never burns, deeply pigmented, least sensitive

Though everyone is at risk for damage as a result of excessive sun exposure, people with skin types I and II are at highest risk.

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