One way to reduce premature aging of your skin is to prevent sun damage. Here’s what to know.
We all want healthy, bouncy, and juicy skin that ages well throughout the years. But most of us do not take care of our skin properly. One of the prime things that affect the quality of our skin and lead to premature aging is the sun’s rays. Apart from the usual sunburn, you can face long-term problems ranging from pigmentation to dark spots and even skin cancer.
When harmful UV rays hit the surface of unprotected skin, it causes changes at the cellular level which becomes visible in the form of skin damage over the years. As a result, it may cause premature aging, where people end up looking way older than their actual age.
In certain cases, unprotected sun exposure can lead to skin cancer. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as photoaging, sun damage, and photodamage. Simple sunscreen and protective clothing can save you a lot of trouble in the future.
Signs of Sun Damage
To notice the signs of aging, you can simply look at the part of your body which is commonly exposed to the sun to one that is not. You will see a clear difference. Here are the visible signs of UV damage that may be causing premature aging:
- Blotchy skin;
- Rough skin texture;
- Fine lines and wrinkles;
- Decreased skin elasticity;
- Spider veins around eyes, nose, or chest area;
- Pigmentation, uneven skin tone, spots, and freckles.
What Causes Sun Damage and Premature Aging?
We all know that UV rays aka Ultraviolet rays are the main cause of skin damage, let’s dive deeper. There are two kinds of UV rays:
- UVA light: UVA rays damage your skin at all levels, starting from the epidermis to the dermis. As a result, nearly all parts of the skin such as fibers, epidermal cells, collagen, and the outer layer of the skin are damaged. All these elements are responsible for keeping your skin young and fresh. When these are damaged, you get the opposite effect.
- UVB light: These types of rays damage the outer skin shell and can lead to the formation of precancerous cells.
How Photoaging Affects Your Skin
Everyone will end up with damaged skin when exposed to the sun for extended durations. However, the extent of damage greatly depends on skin type and geographical factors including overall climate. People with lighter skin tones are more susceptible to getting skin cancer when compared to people with darker skin tones who are prone to developing melasma. Typically, Fitzpatrick’s Scale is used to determine the skin’s phototype and assess the risk:
- Type I: It is defined by people with pale skin, colored eyes, and blond/red hair. People with type I skin will always experience skin burns and will not tan at all when exposed to the sun.
- Type II: It is defined as people with fair skin and light-colored eyes. Such skin type will burn very easily but tans very rarely when exposed to the skin.
- Type III: People with medium-light skin tones are considered to have type III skin. When exposed to the sun, it initially burns and then tans.
- Type IV: People who have light brown skin typically experience tanning with minimal burning when exposed to the sun.
- Type V: It is defined as medium brown skin that tans very easily when exposed to the sun and burns on rare occasions.
- Type VI: If you have dark brown or black skin that tans easily and never experiences sunburn, you fit into Type VI on the photoaging scale.
Are Premature Aging and Photodamage Preventable?
The answer is YES. Even if you have never taken photodamage seriously, it’s time to do it now. Start applying sunscreen religiously and use accessories such as scarves and hats to protect yourself. Always purchase sunscreen and sun protection products that offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays and is at least SPF 30 or above.
In the summer, opt for water-resistant sunscreens while going out in the sun. The best way to find sunscreen as per your skin type is by visiting a dermatologist. Additionally, anti-aging products can help reduce damage to the skin and promote healing.
When to See a Dermatologist for Photodamage
If you were never a fan of sunscreen and are dealing with sunburn and blistering, it is time to book an appointment with a dermatologist immediately. Only a professional will be able to analyze the extent of damage done to your skin and treat it accordingly.
On the other hand, if you haven’t experienced serious sunburn but are dealing with premature aging, skin pigmentation, and rough skin texture, you can always make a skin consultation as well. The skin specialist will analyze your skin, and recommend suitable skincare products and/or professional treatments, such as an anti-aging facial treatment, to get your skin back to health.
Treatments to Tackle Photoaging
Sometimes, you need more than a skincare product to curb the effects of photoaging. Here are some of the popularly used treatment options:
Fractional laser skin resurfacing is one of the best ways to eliminate the signs of photoaging. It rejuvenates the skin from within and tackles spots, fine lines, pores, and rough skin texture in one go. In certain cases, a pulsed laser is used to eliminate broken blood vessels and blotchiness. All in all, it makes your skin healthy and plump.
2. Chemical Peels
Yet again, a very popular option. This treatment is done in an office setting where a skin specialist applies chemical peel to the surface of the skin to get rid of sunspots, uneven skin tone, and pigmentation. Most patients require 3 to 5 sessions to see results.
3. Photodynamic Therapy
This particular treatment is dedicated to the removal of precancerous spots. It involves the use of red or blue light based on the extent of damage that activates the medicine which destroys the precancerous cells caused by sun damage.
4. Topical Medications
If you have minimal damage, a dermatologist might recommend you some topical treatment options that even out your skin tone, and makes your skin smooth and healthy.
One of the most fun treatments against sun damage is cryotherapy. Your skin specialist will use Liquid nitrogen to freeze noncancerous age spots or actinic keratoses. Within a few days, these spots will start to shed away, and you will have fresh skin.
As they say, it is better to be safe than sorry. Preventing sun damage and premature aging is much easier than treating it. So, stock up on sunblock and don’t let the harmful UV rays damage your skin.