Sun damage, also known as photo damage, refers to the damaged caused to the skin due to the harmful UV rays. Uncontrolled sun damage and repeated, unprotected exposure to the sun may cause early aging of the skin and increase the risk of serious diseases such as skin cancer.
Ultraviolet (UV) Rays
Sunlight carries ultraviolet (UV) radiation that can be harmful for the skin when it comes in direct, frequent or prolonged contact with the skin. UVA and UVB are two basic types of UV rays. UVA rays are more dangerous for the human body.
These rays tend to penetrate deep into the skin and are one of the key causes of early aging. Prolonged contact with UVA rays may also cause skin cancer. UVB rays, on the other hand, primarily affect only the superficial surface of the skin. Sunburns are typically caused due to UVB rays.
Secondary Sun Exposure
Primary or direct exposure to the sun is not the only cause of sun damage. Secondary sun exposure occurs when you are not deliberately seeking the sun. It may occur during everyday activities such as walking towards the parking lot, driving to work, or simply sitting near a sun-facing window. Secondary exposure to UV rays may even occur in places where you are least expecting it. It can occur when you are indoors, in the shade, or even on cloudy days.
An average person is exposed to more than 10 hours indoor UV rays in a week. Another seven hours of exposure to outdoor UV rays occurs in a week on average. In other words, an average person may receive about 20 hours of weekly UV radiation exposure without a suitable protection. For people living in sunny climates, the likelihood of sun exposure increases.
People who are at Higher Risk
Everyone is vulnerable to sun damage, but some people may have a higher risk than others. People who have suffered sunburns in the past are at a relatively higher risk than others. People living in hilly regions are also exposed to higher UV intensity. People with fair skin and light hair are genetically more predisposed to sun damage.
Those who engage in frequent outdoor activities are likely to be exposed more, which makes them more vulnerable to sun damage. Certain antibiotics and other medications may increase a patient’s sensitivity to the sun. People who have undergone certain cosmetic skin procedures should consult with their dermatologist for extra protection against sun damage.
Sun damage not only leads to premature aging of the skin, but it also increases the risk of skin cancer. Melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma are three common types of skin cancer that may be caused due to excessive sun exposure.
Protecting against daily direct or indirect exposure to the sun is important. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends sunscreen products with an SPF of 15 or higher. The sunscreen should provide broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection. Moisturizers may also be used to defend against incidental UV exposure.
Sunscreen should be applied to the face, lips, ears, and neck. In case of a balding person, the scalp must also be protected. Sunscreen should be applied ideally 20 minutes prior to contact with UV rays. For extended sun exposure, the sunscreen application should be repeated every two to three hours.
A broad range of treatment options is available for sun damage here at Estetica, including both prescription and non-prescription treatments. More serious sun damage may require additional cosmetic procedures to restore the natural skin appearance. A dermatologist is the best person to evaluate the extent of sun damage and prescribe appropriate treatment according to the patient’s needs.
Retinol: Retinol includes pure Vitamin A, which helps in the formation and maintenance of healthy skin. It stimulates the renewal of keratin, which is essential for skin repair.
AHAs: AHAs or Alpha Hydroxin Acids eliminate dead skin cells from the top layer of the skin. It helps to produce a smoother and healthier skin tone with new skin cells.
Antioxidants: Sun damage can cause oxidative stress in the skin. Antioxidants improve the skin vivacity and reduce the wrinkles and skin discoloration.
Soy: Soy based treatments help to smooth and moisturize the skin, even the overall skin tone, and repair cracks in the skin in a mild and natural manner.
Tretinoin: Topical application of tretinoin helps to enhance collagen production to improve the inner arrangement of the skin. It reduces wrinkles and improves the skin texture.
Hydroquinones: This treatment is applied topically in the affected areas to inhibit the production of melanin. It helps to remove over-pigmented cells and improves skin clarity and tone.
Cosmetic Dermatological Treatments
Cosmetic procedures must be performed by an expert cosmetic dermatologist for safe and predictable results.
Microdermabrasion: This procedure involves scraping away of tiny surface skin particles to stimulate the structure of new skin cells. It decreases the appearance of wrinkles and discoloration, enhances skin texture, and restores the natural glow of the skin.
Chemical Peels: This non-surgical procedure involves application of a chemical solution to the face which gently removes the topmost layer of the skin. The regenerated skin appears in its place, which is softer, smoother, and less wrinkled.
Laser Resurfacing: Controlled laser light is used to vaporize undesired skin tissue and imperfections such as age spots and wrinkles layer by layer.
Derma Fillers: Advanced derma filler treatments are injected directly into the dermis to boost the production of collagen and volumize the skin. It helps to reduce skin folds, creases, wrinkles, and scars.
Botox: This is one of the most popular anti-aging injectable treatments with safe results. Patients of sun damage who develop mild to moderate lines and wrinkles can use this minimally invasive treatment option to restore the youthful appearance of their skin.