A recent study conducted by researchers at Binghamton University has shed light on the biological changes that occur in the skin as a result of prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The study found that UV radiation affects the microstructure of the skin, specifically impacting collagen, which is responsible for connecting tissue, tendon, cartilage, and bone in the body.
The researchers compared full-thickness skin samples before and after varying levels of UV exposure. They discovered that as the skin absorbed more UV radiation, the collagen fibers became tightly packed together, resulting in increased stiffness and tougher tissue. These findings provide insights into why individuals who spend extended periods in the sun or frequent tanning booths develop a “leathery” appearance.
However, it is important to note that the researchers do not want to instill fear around sun exposure. While UV light can toughen the skin, it also poses a higher risk of carcinogenic problems. Therefore, it is recommended to take precautions, such as wearing sunscreen and limiting exposure to the sun, especially during peak hours.
The study also highlights a correlation between the observed changes in the skin and the cross-linkage theory of aging, which suggests that the accumulation of undesirable molecular bonds over time can lead to cellular dysfunction. Understanding the mechanics underlying these changes could potentially enable future interventions to promote healthier skin reactions.
Moreover, the study’s findings have implications beyond the cosmetic aspects of skin health. The skin is the body’s largest organ and serves as a crucial defense against external threats. Disruption to its normal processes can have significant consequences for overall well-being.
Further collaborations among the researchers are already underway, as they continue to investigate the effects of UV radiation on skin microstructure. By gaining a deeper understanding of these mechanisms, researchers hope to develop strategies to maintain and strengthen the skin, ultimately benefiting individuals’ health and quality of life.
– “Ultraviolet light induces mechanical and structural changes in full thickness human skin” by Abraham Ittycheri, Zachary W. Lipsky, Tracy A. Hookway, and Guy K. German. Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials (DOI: 10.1016/j.jmbbm.2023.105880)