When you have acne breakouts, we know that you are ready to try just any way that might help. So, does sunlight actually help in healing acne? Is it really so easy to get rid of this irritating skin problem that keeps on hunting you perpetually? The effect of sunlight on acne has been under debate for centuries.
In older days, sunlight was considered as a sure shot healer for many skin problems, including the acne.
Before you try out this way to get acne free skin, it is important that you actually know the whole story.
“Sun or sunlight helps to heal acne” is only one half of the story and you should not try out this measure before you have the full information about if it really works and if you should try it.
The effect of sunlight on the skin
First of all let us have a brief discussion on how exactly the sun rays affect the skin. Sunray works as the primary source of energy on this planet.
Sunray can initiate a number of chemical actions in the body that are essential for healthy living. Sunlight has natural anti-microbial properties and it is actually good for your body and skin as long as you are under controlled exposure to sun rays.
Sunlight helps in the synthesis of Vitamin D in the body and it also gives color to the skin. However, it is healthy for the body as well as for the skin only when the exposure is mild.
In case of exposure that is not controlled, the effects of sun rays can be actually harmful for the skin. Over or even moderate exposure to sun rays can cause skin tanning and a number of other major skin issues including necrosis, freckles and even skin cancer.
Does sunlight helps in healing acne?
The Ultraviolet ray of the sunlight has excellent ability to kill bacteria. Bacterial infection is one of the primary reasons of acne and hence exposure to sunlight can be helpful to kill the bacteria causing the acne infection and thus helping in healing it.
Sunlight helps in killing the bacteria on the skin that has not yet caused infection as well as the bacteria population that has infected some pores.
So, in a way sun ray acts as a “disinfectant” on the skin and lowers the chance of any bacterial infection.
Another point that you might note after a brief sun exposure particularly if you have acne is that, it reduces the redness of the skin, which instantly gives the impression that sunlight has reduced your acne.
However, actually, the sunlight suppresses the immune response of the body to the acne infection. Redness and inflammation from acne are immune response from the body.
As the sun rays suppress the immune response, hence you automatically notice a dip in the redness and inflammation caused due to acne.
Usually, this immunosuppressive action of the sun rays is temporary and the redness as well as inflammation is most expected to get back after sometime.
However, it has to be accepted that minimum exposure to the sun rays might be actually helpful for healing the acne and also to reduce the chance of further acne infections.
As the UV rays kill the bacteria and also help in suppressing the immune response of the body, hence it can give a boost to the healing process of acne.
The most important thing to keep here in mind is that, you can reap the benefits of sun rays in healing acne only if you get mild exposure to sun rays and the amount of mild can actually vary depending on the skin type of a person.
Can sunlight cause acne?
Another debatable question, if the sunray, which is considered as an acne healer can be a cause of acne? The answer is “Yes”.
The same sunlight which can be helpful to promote acne healing with mild exposure can induce acne in case of overexposure. Sunray does not actually initiate acne but it can certainly create the reasons that can cause acne.
Extreme exposure to sun irritates the skin and can easily give rise to skin allergies which can take a turn for acne after being infected by bacteria.
Moreover, high sun exposure increases the sebum secretion from the skin which can make the existing acne even worse or can even work as the major reason behind new acne breakouts.
So, while mild sun exposure is good for the skin and can even help in healing acne, excess exposure can be a reason of acne and a lot of other skin problems.
Shall I treat my skin with sun exposure?
Well, that is a tricky question though it is what you actually need to know. As already noted above, treating your skin with mild sun exposure can be helpful to heal existing acne breakouts.
It can also be an effective way to prevent future acne and pimple breakouts, as the sun rays kill the infection causing bacteria on the skin.
However, on the other hand, high exposure to the sun can create the causes of fresh acne breakouts. It can also cause hyperpigmentation on the skin and can induce the signs of skin aging more rapidly.
Moreover, excess sun exposure is one of the primary reasons of skin cancer. Another point to note, which is still under debate, is that, excess sun exposure not only kills the infection causing bacteria on the skin, but also the healthy bacterial colony thriving on the skin which is essential for a good skin health.
The destruction of the good bacteria on the skin removes the natural protective barrier making the skin more vulnerable to acne and other skin problems.
Sunray is powerful and if you are going to use it for healing your skin problems like acne, it is really important that you have the right idea about how much exposure is good for your skin and the limit at which it turns all bad.
If you are not very clear about the threshold for your skin when it comes to sun exposure, it is best to stay away from it, as more exposure can do extreme harm to the skin.
If you are planning to treat acne with sun exposure, you also have to keep in mind that the exact sun exposure that can be considered as mild can vary extensively from person to person, depending on their skin type and a lot of other factors.
While 10 minutes of daily sun exposure might be mild for someone, it might be enough to damage the sensitive skin of someone else.
So, if your friend has got some good results in her acne condition after 10 minutes of daily sun exposure, it does not necessarily mean that you will get the same effects on your skin with the same treatment.
Rather, the same amount of exposure can be harmful for your skin type or even least effective.
How to treat acne safely with sun rays?
As we have already mentioned above, though sunray has some acne healing properties, using it in the right way is very important, as over exposure can be most harmful for your skin.
If you are keen to take the sun treatment for your acne, it is best to start only with 5 minutes of sun exposure on alternate days at first. Also instead of getting directly under the sun, use a shade.
A thin cotton cloth placed over your face, can work as a nice and effective sieve to ensure that your sun exposure is mild.
Always start with least amount of sun exposure to get its benefits and then you can increase it from alternate days to everyday from 5 to 15 minutes, depending on how your skin behaves after the first few days.
So can I skip sunscreen?
Well, “No”. When you are taking mild sun exposure to treat your acne, you really need not to put on the sunscreen as it will hinder the penetration of the sun rays.
But when you are going out under the sun you really do not have any proper control on the amount of exposure you are going to get. So, do never miss to lather on sunscreen when you are going out into the sun.
However, if you are suffering from acne, make sure to pick a sunscreen that is not very heavy or oily on the skin and does not cause a lot of sweat.