How Can You Protect Your Skin
“You’re never too young or too old to start protecting yourself against skin conditions caused by sun damage,” says Dr. McKean. That means avoiding sun exposure, particularly between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest. You can do this through a combination of:
- Staying indoors
- Wearing UV-protective clothing
- Applying sunscreen every time you go outside
Dr. McKean recommends sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more every day for everyone older than 6 months. “It’s a good habit to get into because it’s hard to predict when you’re going to be out in the sun and how much exposure you’re going to have,” she says. Any FDA-approved sunscreen will work, but Dr. McKean prefers lotions or gels over sprays because it’s easier to ensure full coverage. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours while you’re outside, and more often when you’re swimming or sweating.
Dr. McKean also recommends getting to know your body and skin features. Check your skin regularly for changes, and be sure to look at the back of your legs using a mirror. If something looks different or new, she suggests taking a picture with your cell phone and tracking it over a few weeks.
Now that you know how to protect yourself from sun damage, you can get out there and enjoy the outdoors â safely!
See How The Sun Damages Your Skin
A UV photograph gives us a safe way to see how the sun damages our skin.
In the UV photos that appear below on the right, you can see what hidden sun damage looks like. Compare these UV photos with the color photos on the left. As you scroll down the page, youll see how much sun damage can accumulate with age.
The more sun damage we accumulate, the greater our risk for developing skin cancer and prematurely aged skin.
18 months of age
This boy’s UV photo shows he does not have sun-damaged skin.
4 years of age
Early sun damage starts to show. Notice the freckling across his nose and cheeks in the UV photo .
17 years of age
This teenager’s UV photo shows that she already has a significant amount of hidden sun damage.
37 years of age
This woman’s hidden sun damage is clearly visible in her UV photo .
52 years of age
The sun has prematurely aged this woman’s skin. In her UV photo , you can see the extent of her hidden sun damage.
64 years of age
This beach-community resident’s skin chronicles a lifetime of sun exposure. Her UV photo reveals the true extent of the sun damage.
ImagesPhotos provided courtesy of David H. McDaniel, MD, FAAD
All content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology
The American Academy of Dermatology gratefully acknowledges the support from DermStore.
Can You Reverse Sun Damage What Doctors Want You To Know
The effects from your last sunburn or tan can be permanent.
I have a confession to make. I hate to admit it, since my career and life revolve around wellness, and I’m supposed to do all the healthy things. But, I just can’t help the fact that I love a good tan and I hate self-tanner .
This like-dislike combination means I probably spend too much time in direct sunlight, and although I always wear sunscreen, SPF doesn’t always feel like a magic defense against pesky UV rays — especially not when my post-beach shower reveals bright pink skin.
I don’t burn often, but my last skin sizzle piqued my curiosity. Knowing that sun exposure is a known cause of skin cancer and premature skin aging, I felt rather pitiful as I looked at the flaky, burnt skin on my shoulders.
Is it possible, I wondered, to reverse sun damage?
I decided to ask a couple of experts, and the verdict isn’t as optimistic as I’d hoped.
Sun damage often manifests as sun spots, which are clusters of hyperpigmentation.
“Sun damage” is a catchall phrase that refers to any harm done to your skin by the sun. It manifests in a number of ways, says Dr. Susan Bard, board-certified dermatologist at Manhattan Dermatology Specialists.
“Sun damage can present as dark spots, aberrant blood vessels or ruddiness, or with skin laxity and wrinkles,” Dr. Bard says. “It can also present with precancerous skin lesions that feel like little scabs on the skin.”
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Microneedling With Radio Frequency + Co2 Laser Combo
One of the newer devices, Secret PRO, combines the two technologies â radiofrequency microneedling with a fractional CO2 laser â in a single device to heal sun-damaged skin and stimulate collagen for skin revitalization.
“What we found with combining those two treatments is that we can treat the mid and superficial dermis with microneedling radio frequency to stimulate collagen, to tighten pores, and to reorient the skin to reduce fine lines,” explains Dr. Pittman, of his go-to treatment. “Then we use the CO2 laser to treat the more superficial layers, so we get off the sun damage, treat fine lines, make the skin smoother and give it more of a glow.”
If it sounds like the Holy Grail of blurring skin imperfections, that’s because it basically is. “You’re doing a little bit of everything with this treatment, and there’s no more downtime combining them than there is from just doing a CO2 laser alone, just about a week,” he says.
Can You Get Sick From Too Much Sun Exposure
In addition to its long-term effects, the sun can make you sick from just one severe sunburn. Your skin may turn red and blister while youre still out in the sun, or it may not occur for several hours. In the meantime, you could develop sun poisoning, which can cause symptoms that include the following:
- Red blotches or bumps on your face
- A reddish-brown color on your neck that may include burning and itching
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How To Prevent Sun Damage
Please wear sunscreen.
Prevention is key for avoiding sun damage from both UVA and UVB rays. Daily protection is critical, Dr. King says, because “much of the sun damage that accumulates in our skin is the result of daily incidental sun exposure.”
Dr. King cites a study done in Australia that tracked the skin of people who used sunscreen everyday, regardless of the weather or their daily activities. The researchers compared this to the skin of people who only used sunscreen on days that were particularly sunny and they felt they would be spending significant time outside. The results? The skin of the people who used sunscreen everyday aged significantly better.
Don’t wait until you see signs of sun damage to start taking care of your skin. Protecting yourself from UV rays is the best way to keep your skin young and healthy.
Dr. King and Dr. Bard offer the following tips:
- Wear sunscreen on any skin exposed to direct sunlight, and not just when you go to the beach. Daily SPF is essential.
- Wear hats and sunglasses to protect your eyes and face.
- Seek shade or cover if the sun is harsh.
- Try to avoid direct sunlight at peak hours .
- Wear light, breathable, long-sleeved shirts and pants when possible, especially if you’re particularly susceptible to sunburns.
When To Call A Professional
- Dry skin that doesn’t respond to nonprescription treatments
- A severe case of blistering sunburn
- A milder sunburn over a very large portion of your skin, especially if your painful skin makes it hard for you to sleep or to wear clothing
- A persistent scaly patch or nodule anywhere on your skin, or a skin ulcer that does not heal
- Abnormal bleeding under the skin, or skin that bruises very easily
- Any change in moles
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Skin Conditions Caused By Sun Damage
When going out in the sun, it’s important to take precautions such as wearing UV protective clothing and sunscreen and staying in the shade to protect yourself from sun damage.
Working or playing outside on a sunny day is one of the joys of summer, but that joy can come at a price if you don’t take steps to protect your skin. Luckily, protecting yourself from skin conditions caused by sun damage doesn’t mean you have to hide inside during all daylight hours.
Treatments That Can Give You Younger
While much of the damage is permanent, treatment can reduce some signs of sun damage that are making you look older.
To treat signs of aging, board-certified dermatologists often use more than one type of treatment. This helps to treat the different signs of aging. It also helps to give you a natural and healthy appearance, so you dont look like youve had work done.
The following lists the different types of treatments that dermatologists use to reduce signs of sun-damaged skin.
- Laser treatments
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When You Should And Shouldnt Use Your Products
Weve got you covered. First no matter what you use, protect your skin with daily, broad-spectrum sunscreen.
1. Should you avoid photosensitizing ingredients when its sunny out?
According to Lortscher, no.
Although, applying them at night is a good practice , applying your products at night wont negate their photosensitivity properties by morning.
2. Which ingredients do put you at greater risk?
Vitamin A derivatives and AHAs do increase your sun sensitivity. Stick to applying them at night and always follow up with daily sunscreen.
Vitamin C, azelaic acid, and beta hydroxy acids dont increase your sensitivity to the sun. They can be applied during the day but keep in mind they may help to shed the dead, dull upper layers of your skin, revealing smoother and more fragile skin underneath.
Weve primed you on how to protect yourself, but half the battle of being vigilant with your routine is understanding why.
Sun damage isnt just about the visible marks, spots, and signs of aging Lorstcher warns that the rays are carcinogenic. suppresses certain activities of the immune system, playing a key role in the development of skin cancer.
Yes, both UVA and UVB are team cancer, and theyre working both angles to make it happen. While UVB burns your skin, UVA stealthily penetrates deep into your skin with no immediate warning signs.
Skin Cancer And Melanoma
Melanoma is the most deadly of the three as it spreads more readily than the others. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common and tends to spread locally rather than metastasize. Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common and is known to metastasize, although not as common as melanoma.
Sun exposure is the most important risk factor for developing melanoma. By contrast, the risk of basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma is related to both a person’s skin type and the amount of lifetime exposure to UV radiation.
- Narendhirakannan, R. and Hannah, A. “Oxidative Stress and Skin Cancer: An Overview.”Ind J Clin Biochem. April 2013 28:110-115.
- Ratushny, V. Gober, M. Hick, R. et al. “From keratinocyte to cancer: the pathogenesis and modeling of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma.” Journal of Clinical Investigation. February 1, 2012 122:464-472.
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Sun Safety Tips For Employers
The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to minimize risk of harm to workers. Employers may be required to provide workers compensation to employees who get skin cancer because of sun exposure on the job.
Skin cancer can greatly reduce workers productivity. Every year, Americans lose more than $100 million in productivity because of restricted activity or absence from work due to skin cancer.
Providing sun protection for outdoor workers helps create a healthy and safe workplace. It can also increase productivity, which saves money. Some of the tips below protect outdoor workers from heat as well as sun exposure.
- Encourage sun safety among your employees and provide sun protection when possible.
- Use tents, shelters, and cooling stations to provide shade at worksites.
- Schedule breaks in the shade and allow workers to reapply sunscreen throughout their shifts.
- Create work schedules that minimize sun exposure. For example, schedule outdoor tasks like mowing for early morning instead of noon, and rotate workers to reduce their UV exposure.
- Include sun-safety information in workplace wellness programs. The National Cancer Institutes Evidence-Based Cancer Control Programs websiteexternal icon lists sun safety programs for outdoor worksites.
How Can I Reduce/prevent Sun Damage
Can Your Reverse Sun Damage? Plus Icon
Some signs of sun damage can be reversed with professional skin treatments. Deep exfoliating treatments such as microdermabrasionand chemical skin peels can help fade stubborn age spots and pigmentation caused by sun damage. Rejuvenation treatments, such as dermal fillers and lip fillers can be used to help plump out the skin where sagging and wrinkles have appeared due to a depletion in collagen caused by sun exposure. Anti-ageing injectables like botulinum toxin can be used to relax the facial muscles to help prevent further wrinkles occurring from repetitive movements . Other innovative treatments, such as microneedling, are designed to help stimulate the skins natural production of collagen, for a plumping effect. Topical skin creams and other skin products can also help to address the signs of ageing by improving the texture and tone of the skin. Laser resurfacing systems such as Fraxel can be used to target and destroy sun-damaged skin, removing it altogether to reveal fresh, new skin beneath.
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Here at sk:n we have a range of treatments designed to help you get the skin you want.
From products to peels, our specialist doctors and nurses can recommend the best path for you to take.
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How To Reverse Sun Damage
Summers long gone, but it may have left our skin with a few lasting souvenirs: Brown spots. Visible blood vessels. A complexion that appears more saggy or wrinkled than before. Perhaps dry, pink, or discolored spots that are precancers or even skin cancer. The good news is, you can reverse signs of sun damage — and this is the perfect time to do it . Here are some derm-recommended strategies that can help.
Protect from the sun. Youre probably aware that sunscreen guards against new damage. But you might be surprised to learn that protecting against ultraviolet light gives the skin an opportunity to heal and actively reverse old damage . Ultraviolet B rays are out in force mostly during summer, but ultraviolet A light reaches our skin year-round, gradually damaging and aging our skin whenever we step outside. Thats why dermatologists like me are always harping about wearing a broad-spectrum, SPF 30+ sunscreen all year long.
Support your skin with an antioxidant serum. Vitamin C, vitamin E, green tea, and resveratrol are antioxidants that can help skin cells repair their DNA and fend off free radical damage from sunshine, pollution, and the bodys metabolism. Before I even reach for my first cup of morning coffee, I make sure Ive layered one on under my daily sunscreen.
How Can I Protect My Child’s Skin
Experts recommend that all kids no matter their skin tone wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Whatever sunscreen you choose, make sure it’s broad-spectrum and, if kids are in or near water, is labeled water-resistant. Apply a generous amount and re-apply often.
Avoid the Strongest Rays of the Day
Try to stay in the shade when the sun is at its strongest . If kids are in the sun during this time, apply and reapply sunscreen even if they’re just playing in the backyard. Most sun damage happens during day-to-day activities because it’s easy to overlook using sunscreen then. Remember that even on cloudy, cool, or overcast days, UV rays reach the earth. This “invisible sun” can cause unexpected sunburn and skin damage.
One of the best ways to protect skin is to cover up. To see if they offer enough protection, put your hand inside clothes to make sure you can’t see it through them. Some clothes have an ultraviolet protection factor against the sun, so check the labels.
Babies have skin that burns more easily, so they should be kept out of the sun whenever possible. If your baby must be in the sun, dress them in lightweight clothing that covers the body, including hats with wide brims to shadow their face. If your baby is younger than 6 months old and still has small areas of skin exposed, apply a tiny amount of SPF 30 sunscreen on those areas.
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Microneedling With Radio Frequency
“Microneedling works at the collagen level,” says Dr. Rabach, making it a perfect option for someone with “much deeper lines from sun damage” by “improving the collagen layer, which overall makes things more youthful.”
Her favorite course of treatment for patients with sun damage is alternating between chemical peels and microneedling every four to six weeks, which she says “will give you as good, if not better, at a fraction of the cost” of lasers.
“We like to alternate because their mechanisms are slightly different: One is basically medication going into the area, the chemical peel, and the other, microneedling, is creating micro holes that stimulate at a different layer than the skin surface into the collagen layer, so you’re treating two different layers,” she explains. “And the combined effect of treating both the skin surface and this slightly deeper layer really rejuvenates the skin in a really exponential way.”
And one of the best things about microneedling with radio frequency? It’s a great option for skin of color, thanks to the insulated tips, meaning that the radio frequency is only coming out of the very tip of the needle, says Dr. Pittman, so “you can treat skin of color where the energy is being delivered and go past the melana sites, so they are not going to get dark.”