11 Subtle Signs You Might Be Spending Too Much Time In the Sun & Should Limit Your Exposure
Being outside is great. It's nice to soak up fresh air, and the sunshine can be rejuvenating and energizing. However, too much outdoor time can have its negative health effects and if you spend a lot of time outside, you might be exhibiting some subtle signs you're spending too much time in the sun. We all know that too much sun exposure can lead to skin cancer down the line, but there are some more immediate symptoms that can let you know when it's time to start hanging in the shade or indoors a little more frequently.
"Spending too much time in the sun may lead to some hazardous effects on the body, especially the skin," says Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, M.D., M.S. over email. "Overexposure to the sun's UV rays may have an overwhelmingly damaging effect on the skin, which can ultimately increase the risk of future skin cancers. It is important to limit your sun exposure to avoid some of the harmful effects of the sun. Nonetheless, awareness of the subtle signs of excessive sun exposure is definitely essential in protecting your health."
While some sun exposure can boost your mood and improve your energy levels, you want to make sure you're not overdoing it. Here are 11 signs you're spending too much time in the sun.
1. Dry Skin
Got dry skin and don't know why? The sun might be to blame. "Spending too much time in the sun will literally dry out the top layers of your skin," says dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse MD, FAAD over email. "Your skin may start to feel tight and itchy, even if it is not flaky."
2. Easy Bruising Or Skin Tearing
UV rays break down collagen, which forms the structure of the skin. Over time, this causes the skin to physically thin out, making it more prone to tears and cuts with minor every day trauma, says Shainhouse. "Thin skin means that blood vessels are closer to the skin surface, which makes them more prone to breaking and leaking with mild banging, creating bruises that seem to appear 'out of nowhere,'" she says.
3. Dry Hair
The combination of heat and UV rays can also dry out your hair strands. "Apart from sunburning your scalp, which can leave it itchy and flaky, chronic sun exposure will suck moisture out of your strands and fade your color," says Shainhouse. "If you noticed that your dye job isn't lasting long enough, especially in the spring and summer months, it may mean that it's time to use a UV protective conditioner or hair care product, as well as hiding your hair under a hat."
4. Dry Eyes
Your eyes can also become sun damaged when exposed to chronic sun. "UV rays pass through the pupil to the lens, ultimately causing damage and essentially scarring of the lens, called a cataract," says Shainhouse. "As UV passes through the cornea en route to the lens, it can irritate and even sunburn the surface of the eye and cornea, leaving it feeling dry, irritated, burning." To minimize this risk, always wear a dark, UV protective sunglasses when you are outdoors, and consider adding a wide-brimmed hat to reduce the sun that reaches your face and eyes.
5. Tiny Blood Vessels On The Face
Once the skin becomes damaged, the skin thins out and becomes more loose. This can increase the appearance of tiny blood vessels in the face, according to Dr. Jennifer Caudle over email.
"Exposure to the sun and heat may lead to excessive sweating that contributes to the development of heat rash," says Okeke-Igbokwe. "An increase in sweating can lead to blockage of some sweat ducts and subsequently cause irritation of the skin and the formation of bothersome little red bumps."
7. Chapped Lips
Overexposure to the sun over the course of your life can lead to actinic cheilitis, also known as "farmers lip." "One can notice changes predominantly on the lower lips such as extreme chapping and severe cracking of the lips," says Okeke-Igbokwe.
8. Brown Spots
If you have some new freckles or dark spots appearing on your skin, you can thank the sun for that. "Overexposure to the sun may result in uneven skin tone and hyperpigmented dark patches known as solar lentigines," says Okeke-Igbokwe. "These sun spots can be found on various regions of the body that are overexposed frequently to UV sunlight."
The sun can be energizing, but if you spend too much time outside, it can actually end up draining. This is because your body is fighting off the heat, becoming dehydrated, or going through chemical changes that can end up leaving you fatigued later, according to Sleep.org.
Wrinkles are a part of natural aging, but too much sun can cause accelerate aging of the skin. "The elasticity and integrity of the skin is compromised as a result of too much sun and UV radiation exposure," says Okeke-Igbokwe. "Excessive time in the sun may damage the skin's collagen and elastin fibers, further facilitating an increase in wrinkle formation."
If you find that you constantly get headaches after spending time outdoors, you might want to cut back a bit. The combination of the sun's strong rays and glare in conjunction with dehydration can cause sun sensitivity and headaches in some people, according to Livestrong.com. Make sure you drink enough water and stay in the shade when possible.