Now that summer has come to an end, it’s time to assess the damage.
It was fun sitting at the pool, strolling along the surf, cruising around the lake and attending those outdoor festivals, but the effects of summer sun might be lingering on your skin.
Sun damage occurs over time after repeated or extended sun exposure – which is what summer fun is all about!
What is Sun Damage?
Essentially, sun damage accelerates the normal aging process as ultraviolet light breaks down and damages the elastins in your skin. When elastins are damaged, the skin loses its ability to go back into place after stretching, and it begins to wrinkle and sag.
Sun damage can appear in many forms, including dry skin, sunburn or long-term changes such as deep wrinkles or thickening of the skin’s texture. Other potential indicators of sun damage are easy bruising on forearms or the backs of hands, and actinic keratosis, a small bump that feels like sandpaper or a patch of scaly skin.
Sun damage can affect anyone, but it is more common in those with light skin or a previous incident of skin cancer. People with moles, freckles, light eyes or with a family history of sun damage or skin cancer are also at greater risk – as are those who spend a lot of time outdoors or have certain autoimmune diseases such as lupus.
Additionally, most skin cancers can be avoided by preventing sun damage.
Does Sunscreen Prevent Sun Damage?
Sunburn doesn’t just hurt; it actually causes damage to the cells and blood vessels in your skin. But sunburn isn’t the only cause of sun damage.
Sun damage is cumulative and occurs over your lifetime. So, just because you haven’t burned doesn’t mean sun damage hasn’t occurred.
The best way to avoid sun damage is to stay out of the sun, but when you are outside, you should always wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. You should also avoid the sun during peak hours (from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.) when ultraviolet rays are strongest.
Protective clothing – including long sleeves, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and UV-filtering sunglasses –also provides great protection from sun damage.
Sun Damage Treatment Options
When the skin has been damaged by the sun, treatment will depend on the kind and extent of the damage. Sometimes, a deep moisturizer can help to replenish the skin’s moisture after prolonged sun exposure. Avoiding hot baths and showers is also a good way to keep from drying out your skin. Sunburns can be treated with topical aloe vera gel and cool compresses to relieve pain.
Long-term sun damage is more difficult to treat. Unfortunately, the damage caused to the collagen in the skin is permanent and can’t be reversed. However, there are several options to improve your skin’s overall appearance.
Laser skin resurfacing vaporizes the upper layer of skin, creating a wound that encourages the body to produce new collagen. As the skin heals, it tightens, thus eliminating wrinkles.
After laser skin resurfacing, your skin will continue to rejuvenate for months. This procedure is ideal for removing fine lines or wrinkles around the mouth or eyes.
Another popular treatment is a chemical peel, which improves the skin’s appearance by peeling off the old layer of skin. The old skin blisters and peels off so new cells can grow, revealing smoother and less wrinkled skin underneath.
These peels are done in your doctor’s office and typically take less than one hour. This is also a popular treatment for reducing fine lines around the mouth and eyes and other wrinkles caused by sun damage.
Cryotherapy, also known as cryosurgery, uses liquid nitrogen to freeze and destroy growths on the surface of the skin. The liquid nitrogen destroys targeted skin cells at the cellular level, causing the treated area to blister and scab over before healing to reveal smoother skin underneath.
This non-invasive procedure is often recommended for pre-cancerous lesions on the skin such as actinic keratosis, as well as some forms of skin cancer. Cryotherapy is simple, affordable and has very few side effects and a low risk of infection.
Dermaplaning and dermabrasion are other options for exfoliating dry or rough skin to trigger cell regeneration. Sun-damaged skin is replaced with new skin growth that enables better product absorption and that appears healthier and more vibrant.
Many treatments to repair sun damage have very few side effects, are done in your doctor’s office on an outpatient basis and can be combined with other treatments and repeated for even better results.
Is your Skin Showing the Effects of too Much Summer Sun?
Call U.S. Dermatology Partners today for an evaluation of which types of treatments can get your skin back to looking its best. We have multiple locations throughout the country, so fill out our simple online form to get in touch with us. One of our local team members will reach out to you shortly to answer your questions or schedule an appointment for you to visit us soon.
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