Melanin production is accelerated by exposing the skin to ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B sunlight, according to Mayo Clinic. Melanin also is increased by exposure to the ultraviolet light found in tanning beds and sunlamps.
Melanin is the dark pigment in the outer layer of epidermis that causes skin to tan when exposed to ultraviolet light, Mayo Clinic explains. The suntan that results from the boost in melanin production is the body’s attempt to protect the skin from sunburn and skin damage. Melanocytes are the cells in the lower part of the epidermis that make melanin, states WebMD. The cancer that forms in melanocytes is called melanoma.
Melanin amounts are genetically determined and not everyone produces enough to avoid skin damage from sun and ultraviolet light exposure, cautions Mayo Clinic. Skin burns eventually and turns red with pain and swelling. WebMD suggests the use of the vitamin B3 product niacinamide to lighten sun damage spots and reduce inflammation by preventing the rise of melanin to the skin’s surface.
Ultraviolet radiation is a short wavelength of sunlight not visible to the human eye, explains Mayo Clinic. Nearly 80 percent of ultraviolet rays pass through clouds, making it possible to get sunburn on cool and cloudy days. Reflective surfaces such as sand, snow, ice and water also can burn skin.