Long term and repeated exposure to sunlight, especially ultraviolet light, can cause a variety of cosmetic and medical problems related to the skin, commonly referred to as sun damage. Sun damage can affect any area of the skin as a result of excessive exposure to the ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun. Sun damage most commonly occurs on the face, hands and arms, and may lead to sun spots, age spots, rough skin and wrinkles. Years of sun exposure can also lead to premature aging and skin cancer. Some individuals may notice skin lesions that are a form of actinic keratosis, which is a precancerous skin condition that develops from years of sun exposure.
The best treatment against sun damage is preventing it from occurring in the first place. It is important to wear sunscreen on a daily basis, re-apply it throughout the day, and avoid excessive exposure to the sun, especially during mid-day hours when the sun is strongest. Additional ways to prevent sun damage include:
- Always wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher
- Wear a hat in the sun
- Wear long sleeves and long pants
- Avoid tanning beds and salons
Once sun damage has occurred, there are options available to cosmetically improve damage that has already been suffered. Injectable fillers can help to fill out lines and wrinkles to give the skin a fuller, smoother look and feel. Phototherapy can reduce the appearance of uneven pigmentation and laser treatments may also be effective for these conditions. Chemical peels and microdermabrasion soften and rejuvenate the skin by removing old and dead layers of skin cells. This helps to promote new growth and enhanced texture of the skin, resulting in a noticeable renewal of the skin.
Individuals that notice any suspicious growths or skin patches should immediately consult with a dermatologist as early detection is extremely important in treating any forms of skin cancer that may have developed as a result of sun damage.