Sunscreen is not only essential to prevent skin cancer and premature skin aging, also protects dilatation of skin’s blood vessels, according to a study presented at the American Physiological Society’s annual meeting. Dilatation of blood vessels is important to respond to heat stress (not only in the skin, but also through the body) and to regulate the body’s temperature.

UVR reduce amount of nitric oxide available in the skin, which plays a role in the dilatation of blood vessels and essential for blood vessel health. The team of researchers from Pennsylvania State University studies how UVR exposure can affect the ability of nitric oxide to promote the dilatation of blood vessels in the skin. For the study, the researchers used healthy and young adults with light-to-medium skin tone. One of their arms was divided in three areas, which were randomly covered with stimulated sweat, with sunscreen and with nothing; and then the areas were irradiated with UVR (their other arm was used as control and not irradiated). The dose used for the study was equivalent to spending an hour outside on a sunny day that would not cause reddening or sunburn.

The results showed that sunscreen and sweat protected the dilatation of blood vessels induced by nitric oxide. “Further, when sunscreen was applied prior to UVR, UVR exposure actually augmented [nitric oxide-associated vasodilation] compared to [the control arm], or when sweat was on the skin,” the research team wrote. “The presence of sunscreen or sweat on the skin may play a protective role against this effect [of UVR].”

For those who spend a lot of time working, exercising or participating in other various activities outdoors, using sunscreen may protect not only against skin cancer, but also against reductions in skin vascular function,” wrote S. Tony Wolf, first author of the study.

 

Source: Science Daily