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Posted at: Nov 3, 2018, 2:19 AM; last updated: Nov 3, 2018, 2:19 AM (IST)

Time to switch off the light

The glare of cellphone and computer screens might be ageing your skin

Ravi Mittal

A COuple of years back, leading dermatologists in the annual Facial Aesthetic Conference and Exhibition warned that the high energy visible (HEV) light that emits from the phone and computer screens can cause damage to the skin. Last year, some more news reported that staring at screens for longer durations affects our eyesight, shortens our concentration span and disturbs our sleep patterns.

Most of us have become so used to sitting in front of a screen for an entire day. And when it’s not the computer screen, we are glued to either our smartphones or a tablet. We have conveniently ignored implications of screen time on our eyes, but what’s worse is that these devices have been destroying our skin too. And are we bothered!

Skin at a high risk

The HEV or ‘blue light’ emitted by our devices might actually be doing permanent damage to our skin. It impacts the DNA within our cells negatively, expediting skin ageing.

Another study suggests that use of laptop, tablet and smartphone outdoors could put the skin at the risk of skin cancer and grievous skin damage. This can happen because your screens can act like a mirror and reflect UV rays from the sunlight onto your skin. In fact, four days in front of your computer screens is equivalent to 20 minutes in the mid-afternoon sun.

This blue light emitted from screens can penetrate your skin into a deeper level than the UV rays, causing health issues like age spots, pigmentation and fine lines. According to a dermatologist at the Kent and Canterbury Hospitals, HEV refers to the “higher-frequency, shorter wavelengths of light in the violet-blue band in the visible spectrum.” HEV is present in daylight, but it’s also emitted by LEDs, including TV screens, smartphones, tablets and computers.”

The next tech disorder

It won’t be an exaggeration to claim that ‘screen face’ has made it to the list of other afflictions brought about by the digital era, along with ‘text neck’ and ‘cellphone elbow’. However, scientific evidence behind screen face is still debatable. Some data suggests that darker skin types may experience worsening of skin pigmentation upon exposure to visible light. A study from 2014 found that blue light produces more hyper-pigmentation than UVB. But, this evidence is also not conclusive to prove the ‘screen face’ theory, except the fact that blue light is present in sunlight as well as screen light.

HEV can be as damaging to the skin as UVA and UVB combined. The effects of HEV are the same as UVA and UVB damage — premature ageing, inflammation, uneven pigmentation and impaired barrier function.

Delay the damage

Some suggest that a broad-spectrum antioxidant during the day and another antioxidant for the evening can provide 24-hour protection. Avoid using a phone in sunlight or even outdoors. Moisturise the skin often. Use a sunscreen regularly to prevent skin damage.

Also there are brands that provide protection from blue-light technology and have an SPF of 50+. These creams have a very wide spectrum protector.

— The writer is managing director- Skeyndor India

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