For many years, people assumed it was aging, and not the sun, that was causing their skin to look weathered. But in fact, when we look at non-exposed skin on the breast or buttocks, it looks younger and healthier than skin that has had excessive sun exposure such as the face and hands.
Harmful Effects of Sun Exposure
Excessive sun exposure can lead to premature aging. Ultraviolet light from the sun can break down the skins connective tissues causing a loss of collagen and elastin. Many people can experience an uneven darkening or lightening of the skin from sun exposure. The melanocytes, which give skin its color, increase when we are exposed to the sun, resulting in a tan appearance. With prolonged exposure, irregular pigment such as brown or white spots can occur. In addition, other signs of sun damage can include fine and course wrinkling, broken blood vessels, sallow skin coloring, a thickening of the skin with a leathery appearance and roughened areas of texture.
In more severe cases, sun damage can lead to skin cancer. It is important to have annual body checks to identify possibly harmful spots or lesions, as early detection and removal is the most effective means of treatment and potential cure.
Often times, people don’t wear sunscreen because they claim they are only out 10 minutes per day. If that time is added up every day of your life, it can result in chronic sun damage. Sunscreens are important to protect yourself from the potentially harmful effects of UVA and UVB rays. There are many great sunscreens available including creams, lotions and powders. You should use at least an SPF 30 for daily protection and an SPF 60 for strong, extended exposure to sun.
If you already have sun damage, there are a number of modalities you can use to address this. You may notice uneven color with brown discoloration or a deepening of lines and wrinkles on the face. Sun damage laser treatment, bleaching creams, or peels can all be effective. Our office offers many treatment options to reverse the signs of sun damage. A consultation will help determine the best method of treatment for you.