How is the sun harmful to humans?
When your skin is exposed to the sun, it’s also exposed to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays that are naturally given off by the sun. These UV rays can cause damage to the skin over time, especially if you have sensitive skin or experience sunburns easily. If you think you may have been overexposed to the sun or have experienced sun damage, check with your trusted dermatologist. Your dermatologist can examine your skin thoroughly to determine if you’ve suffered from skin damage due to sun exposure, as well as recommend treatment options that are proven successful in improving your skin’s condition.
Can sunburn permanently damage skin?
Sun damage can be improved or even reversed with the help of an experienced dermatologist. There are numerous skin treatment options that can heal sun damaged skin. In addition, you can make changes to your day-to-day lifestyle to help improve your skin’s appearance and avoid future skin damage. To help reverse the signs of damaged skin, consult with your skin doctor and try to implement the following lifestyle changes to prevent further damage:
- Use protective clothing when outdoors–especially during the sunniest times of the day
- Make a habit of applying sunscreen every morning
- Invest in sunglasses that are UV-resistant
- Avoid being outdoors during peak sunlight hours (10:00 am–3:00 pm)
What does skin damage from the sun look like?
Sun damage to the skin may look different, depending on how long it has been since your skin was exposed. Below are some of the symptoms of sun damage you may notice.
Immediate Sun Damage Symptoms
- Red skin
- Flaky skin
- Sunburned skin
- Wrinkly skin
- Scaly skin
- Dry skin
Long-term Sun Damage Symptoms
- Small bumps on the skin
- Pink, red, yellow, and/or brown patches of skin
- Blood vessels that are fragile
- Deep wrinkles or lines
- Thick, leathery skin
- Premature signs of skin aging
Symptoms of long-term skin damage could also be a sign of a more serious skin problem in some cases. Make sure you schedule a visit with your trusted dermatologist if you notice any of the above signs of long-term sun damage.
How can you prevent skin cancer?
Skin cancer prevention is extremely important for people of all ages. One bad sunburn significantly increases the risk of skin cancer. Likewise, recurring sun exposure can have a similar effect. Risks can be managed with simple steps, outlined by the Skin Cancer Foundation:
- Avoid tanning, including tanning beds
- Avoid sun exposure between 10am and 4pm
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen to prevent the absorption of UVA and UVB light. Sunscreen should be SPF 15 or higher. SPF 30 is ideal for most people.
- Apply sunscreen properly! Most people do not apply enough. For the face, apply a nickel sized dollop. For the body, a shot-glass. In addition to applying sufficient sunscreen, it is crucial that you re-apply sunscreen every few hours. If you sweat or swim, re-apply after drying off.
- Use clothing, sunglasses, and hats as additional cover from sunlight.
- Examine your skin monthly, from head to toe.
- See your dermatologist every year for a professional skin cancer screening.
Should people of color be concerned about sun safety?
Yes. Studies indicate that people of color have much lower rates of melanoma than lighter-skinned folks, other types of skin cancer and sun damage can occur. Also, while the rates of melanoma skin cancer may be lower, research also suggests that skin cancer is typically diagnosed later, when more aggressive treatment is needed.
UV safety is not an issue of the skin only. Sun exposure also presents short and long-term risks to the eyes. This is relevant to people of all ethnicities. Repeated UV exposure increases the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, risks that can be reduced by wearing proper sunglasses.
Is it possible to get a sunburn if it’s cloudy?
Sunburn is less likely on cloudy days. However, it can happen. Sun protection is necessary every day, regardless of the sun’s strength. The reason you should always wear sunscreen is that, despite clouds, the ultraviolet rays from the sun come through the atmosphere to affect the skin. Ultraviolet rays don’t just cause sunburn, they are also responsible for skin cancer and premature aging, so you want your skin protected all the time, not just on those sunny days at the beach.
Does sun damage cause wrinkles?
In many cases, long-term sun damage will result in wrinkles and other signs of premature aging. Most commonly, those who notice sun damage wrinkles experience lip wrinkles and eye wrinkles. Many people also notice changes in their skin tone or texture, which can include black, red, brown, white, tan, or pale patches or spots. If you notice lines, wrinkles, changes in color, changes in texture, or any other signs of sun damage, consult your dermatologist. Your doctor can perform a full skin health check and examine your skin for possible sun damage.
How can you tell if you have sun damage?
The most common sun damage symptoms can be found below:
- Sun spots
- Age spots
- Sun damage
- Changes in skin color
- Red skin
Do I have sun damaged skin?
If you notice any of the above-listed symptoms of skin damage, see your dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis. Your dermatologist can recommend the best solution to help reverse or improve your sun damage as well as offer you options to prevent future sun damage.
It is possible to reverse sun damage?
Sun damage can be reversed in some cases with the help of an experienced dermatologist. There are several dermatologist-recommended treatment options, including chemical peels and microdermabrasion, that could help improve sun damage to your skin. However, even after undergoing sun damage treatment, your skin is still susceptible to repeat sun damage. In order to maintain the improvements you see following your treatment, be sure to wear protective clothing, avoid direct and prolonged sun exposure, and apply sunblock every morning.
What are all the treatment options for sun-damaged skin?
Each person’s skin is unique, so it’s important to consult with an experienced dermatologist to decide which treatment will be best for you. Dermatologists have several ways to manage the risks of sun damage and correct the signs of sun damage on the skin. These include:
- Every person can benefit from SPF 30 sunscreen applied daily.
- A quality exfoliating cream, applied in the morning, helps the skin release dead cells. Glycolic acid and alpha-hydroxy acid are examples of exfoliants.
- A retinoid cream, applied daily, helps fight free radicals that cause premature aging. Retinoids also balance skin hydration levels.
- Antioxidant skin creams also fight free radicals and aid in tissue repair.
Laser and Light Therapies
Several technologies are:
- IPL. Intense pulsed light therapy is a type of photofacial, meaning that it uses light to address sun damage. Treatment heats the skin, targeting specific colors that are causing hyperpigmentation or other cosmetic flaws. These cells are naturally eliminated over time.
- BBL is cosmetic therapy using broadband light. This procedure precisely delivers laser energy to unique dermatologic targets. Heating the upper layers of the skin, broadband light stimulates regeneration in skin cells. BBL can target melanin that causes brown spots as well as blood vessels that cause red spots and hyperpigmentation problems. In the few weeks after treatment, spots slough off naturally, while tiny blood vessels get absorbed.
- Fraxel laser treatment is a type of fractionated treatment that works by creating microscopic channels of “thermal destruction.” The creation of channels prompts the body to repair the area by replacing damaged cells. Fraxel can treat scarring, wrinkles, sun damage, and hyperpigmentation.
- Halo laser treatment is uniquely designed to target the same treatment zones with ablative and non-ablative technologies. The dual-wavelength treatment addresses sun damage and other conditions in the epidermis, the outermost layer of skin, while stimulating tissue remodeling in the dermis, the foundational layer of skin where collagen is made. Halo treatments can correct enlarged pores, sun damage, discoloration, scarring, and uneven skin tone.
- Ematrix is a sublative rejuvenation system that delivers powerful radiofrequency energy into deeper layers of the skin. By penetrating beneath the surface layer of the skin, radiofrequency leaves the surface layer untouched. Beneath the epidermis, absorbed energy stimulates collagen and elastin production for more meaningful improvements. Ematrix can treat sun damage, lines and wrinkles, rough texture, and more.
- Fractional CO2 is fractional carbon dioxide laser resurfacing. This highly effective technology yields dramatic improvement in skin tone and texture in various areas, including the delicate skin around the eyes and mouth. Fractional laser resurfacing is ablative, removing micro-regions of the top layers of damaged skin. In addition to improving cosmetic appearance, this treatment can remove pre-cancers.
- Chemical peels are customized treatments designed for exfoliation. They are formulated to be mild, medium, or strong and are tailored to each patient’s desired outcome and preferences. Chemical peels can be performed as often as every month to ward off new skin damage caused by aging and sun exposure.