Sun-kissed. Radiant. Glowing. A “healthy tan.”
Our culture has traditionally equated sun exposure with a healthy, active lifestyle, but there is no such thing as a “healthy tan.” Any time your skin is exposed to the sun, you are causing irreversible damage—in fact, up to 90 percent of the signs of skin aging are caused by the sun.
And, unfortunately, sun damage isn’t only skin-deep. Any time skin is exposed to UV radiation, the DNA of skin cells is altered. That’s what causes the visible lines, wrinkles, and discoloration—and can even lead to skin cancer.
As people age, we wear the damage on our skin, particularly on faces and hands. Age exacerbates exposure to the sun, which causes a breakdown in collagen. This leads to a loss in elasticity since collagen is what provides the skin’s volume and gives it shape.
At West Dermatology, we understand that the effects of sun and age damage on the skin can be distressing to notice and treat. That’s why we provide comprehensive diagnosis and treatments that take your unique needs into consideration and provide specific care regimens. To learn more about what we can do for you, call 888-554-8740 or contact us online to schedule an informational consultation with our skilled dermatologists.
What Does Sun and Age Damage Look Like?
The telltale signs of sun and age damage can rob you of your youthful appearance:
- Lines, especially around the eyes and mouth
- Wrinkles on the face, neck, and chest
- Drooping caused by a loss of elasticity
- Freckles and moles
- Age spots, especially on the hands
While all of these symptoms can be unsightly, some are downright dangerous. An annual full-body check for suspicious moles is recommended for everyone.
And contact your dermatologist right away if you notice changes in the size, shape, or color of a mole or other skin lesion, the appearance of a new growth on the skin, or a sore that doesn’t heal. The best way to detect skin cancer early is to recognize new or changing skin growths, particularly those that look different from other moles.
What is Aging Your Skin?
Exposure to the sun causes far more than cosmetic concerns: it contributes to your potential for developing skin cancer, the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in the United States. All skin cancer is not the same and can manifest differently, requiring different forms of treatment.
The number-one cause of skin cancer is ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. This cumulative sun exposure can lead to actinic keratosis, which often shows up as red, brown, or skin-colored patches that are small, scaly, and considered pre-cancerous.
The most common types of skin cancer are basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer, and the most dangerous form of skin cancer is melanoma. More than 135,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed in the United States each year. About half of those cases will be considered invasive melanoma, which means they will spread below the skin to other, internal body parts.
Prevent and Repair Sun and Age Damage
Skin cancer requires treatment right away. If you have questions or concerns about any part of your skin, please contact your dermatologist today.
There are also some key steps everyone can take to help prevent further sun damage, and even improve the look of skin that has already been affected, starting with these six common-sense habits:
- Wear sunscreen every day, year round. Sun and age damage accumulate every day, no matter what the weather. Make sure you are applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen which protects the skin from both UVA and UVB rays, as part of your morning routine. Pay special attention to areas that are easy to overlook, such as your hands, lips, ears, and chest. Aim for an SPF of 30 or more.
- Avoid midday sun. Make sure you stay out of the sun during the most intense hours, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
- Cover up. Wear a hat and sunglasses, and cover up your exposed skin with clothing.
- Avoid tanning beds. Indoor tanning is just as dangerous as a day at the beach.
- Try self-tanners. Crave that glow? Beauty does come in a bottle, in the form of self-tanners. Today’s formulas are easier to apply and more natural looking than ever.
- Moisturize at night. Slather face, neck, chest, hands, etc. with moisturizing cream each evening, just as you cover them with sunscreen in the morning.
Sun damage is cumulative, but it’s never too late to implement sun smarts into your daily routine. Learn more about age damage at WebMD.com.
Find Effective Sun Damage Treatment
It’s hard to believe that something that makes you feel so good can be so destructive, but the bottom line is that developing smart sun sense is the key to avoiding sun and age damage. The dangers, from cosmetic to cancer, are anything but a day at the beach.
Whether you need a mole checked out, or want to learn more about the latest treatments, contact your local West Dermatology office by filling out our online contact form or calling us at 888-554-8740.
Next, read about Warts.