With summer quickly approaching, protection from the sun should be at the forefront of your skincare routine. The sun causes so much damage to skin, resulting in everything from premature aging to discoloration. In this blog, we’ll give some tips on skincare related to sun exposure and how you can prevent skin damage from the sun, as well as options you have to treat sun-damaged skin.
Sun Damage to Skin: What Are Signs of Sun-Damaged Skin?
While a nice tan is something many people desire, excessive unprotected exposure to the sun can cause many issues. UV rays cause free radical damage to the skin. These unstable molecules damage skin cells. This can cause immediately visible effects, such as sunburn or sun tans, and further damage that shows up down the road. UV exposure breaks down collagen, which is what gives skin its elasticity. When collagen is lost within the skin, it results in skin that is more lax, wrinkled, and saggy. This process naturally happens with age; however, unprotected sun exposure can accelerate these signs of aging.
Sun exposure can also lead to a condition called elastosis, where skin is thicker in some parts and thinner in others, affecting appearance. It can also lead to spider veins, blotchiness, and age spots.
These are all just aesthetic concerns mentioned so far, but the biggest concern when it comes to sun damage is skin cancer. According to the CDC, most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to UV rays.
How Can You Prevent Sun Damage to Skin?
Prevention is very important to reduce your risk of skin cancer and premature aging. Always use sunscreen. This is an especially important part of your summer skincare routine when sun exposure is high. However, it’s not just a summer skincare thing. Sunscreen is also important in other seasons, even winter.
Limit intense sun exposure. This means you should minimize going out during the hours where the sun is at its peak, namely around 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. When you are out during these hours, stay on top of sunscreen application and reapplication as necessary, and consider added layers of protection such as a wide-brimmed hat or SPF clothing.
Can Sun-Damaged Skin Be Repaired?
It’s best to prevent sun damage from occurring in the first place, but once it has happened, there are some things that can be done to help. Below are some things you can do to help repair sun-damaged skin:
Topical treatments: At-home care starts with applying antioxidant-rich products like vitamin C serums that can help reduce free radical damage to the skin.
Total FX: This is a CO2 laser skin resurfacing treatment. For those with sun damage, Total FX may be the best choice (as opposed to Active FX or Deep FX alone — this treatment combines both). The Active FX portion targets the outer layer of skin, helping to reduce discoloration and surface issues caused by the sun like age spots and spider veins, while the Deep FX portion immediately tightens skin and prompts long-term rebuilding of the collagen matrix.
Profound RF: For skin that has wrinkles from sun damage, radiofrequency can help. Profound RF utilizes radiofrequency waves to tighten skin and reduce or eliminate wrinkles. In addition, the microneedling done during this treatment helps stimulate production of collagen and elastin, two skin components that are reduced by UV exposure.
Microdermabrasion: This is a good choice for those whose sun damage shows up mainly as small surface issues like discoloration or a blotchy complexion. Microdermabrasion can restore a more even complexion and reduce redness in a quick procedure with little to no downtime.
Fillers: For wrinkles from sun damage, fillers such as Restylane can help. These fillers use ingredients like hyaluronic acid to plump up skin, which reduces the appearance of wrinkles.
If you have signs of sun damage, schedule an appointment for a consultation at our office so we can discuss the best course of action.