While many of us enjoy laying out in the sun, it can actually be harmful to your health in the long run. Too much time in the sun can lead to sun damage, which can impact the look and health of your skin. For more information regarding sun damage treatments in the Bellevue, WA area, read on!
What is Sun Damage?
When we spend too much time in the sun, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can take a toll on our skin. UV rays cause changes in the skin’s DNA, which can lead to premature aging and skin cancer. The sun emits two different types of UV rays, including UVA and UVB.
UVA Rays: These rays penetrate more deeply into the skin and cause more premature aging. They also play a role in the formation of skin cancer.
UVB Rays: These rays are what create sunburn. They play the greatest role in causing skin cancer, including melanoma.
Short-term sun damage can look like a sunburn, while long-term damage may include photoaging, or early signs of aging due to the sun. In fact, signs of sun damage can begin to show in an individual as early as their 20s.
Sun damage commonly presents on the skin as:
Brown Spots: Also called age spots, brown spots are flat, dark areas on the skin that vary in size. They usually occur in sun-exposed areas including the face, shoulders, hands, and arms.
Hyperpigmentation: Sun damage can lead to hyperpigmentation or dark patches of skin that can cause the skin to look uneven.
Lines and Wrinkles: The sun’s UV rays cause free radicals to form within the skin, damaging elastin fibers and resulting in lines and wrinkles.
Solar Elastosis: Prolonged sun exposure can lead to the breakdown of elastic tissue in the dermis, causing yellow, thickened skin with deep wrinkles.
Telangiectasia: Telangiectasia is dilated or broken blood vessels near the surface of the skin caused by chronic sun damage. They often appear as fine pink or red lines.
Actinic Keratoses: These rough, scaly patches of skin develop due to years of sun exposure. They are slow-growing and may turn into skin cancer if left untreated.
Atypical Moles: These are benign, unusual-looking moles that should be checked regularly. This is because people with atypical moles are at an increased risk of skin cancer.
Sun Damage Treatment Options
Each condition caused by sun damage is unique, which is why each treatment option may differ depending on the diagnosis. However, some of the most commonly used treatment options to address sun damage on the skin include:
Laser Resurfacing: Laser resurfacing works by removing the topmost layer of the skin along with sun damage. It heats the underlying layers of the skin as well to promote the production of collagen for more evenly-toned skin.
IPL Treatments: Intense pulsed light (IPL) treatments can be a great option for eliminating brown spots or irregular pigmentation due to sun damage. This treatment uses short light pulses to target the affected skin, reducing the look of dark spots.
Chemical Peels: Chemical peels remove the outer layer of old, sun-damaged skin, revealing smoother and more radiant skin underneath. This option is great for addressing lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, brown spots, and more.
Topical Medications: Dr. Gray may prescribe you some topical medications to help combat signs of aging due to sun damage. These may consist of prescriptions that target atypical cells or topical retinoids to reverse sun damage over time.