Long-term sun exposure can have a damaging effect on your skin and overall health. It can cause premature aging including fine line and wrinkles, discoloration, and potentially – skin cancer.
Premature Skin Aging
While everyone can agree that it is nice to spend a day at the beach in the sun, over time that sun exposure can cause you to look older than your actual age. Fine lines and wrinkles form because of the skin's inability to stay hydrated and retain moisture. The texture can change due to thinning of the skin. You may notice that it blisters more easily, or develops thick bumps. The sun exposure can lead to darkened areas of the skin called sun spots (also known as liver spots, age spots, or lentigines.)
Sun spots are a result of UV exposure. The areas can vary in size, some as big as an inch across and they may vary in color – ranging from brown or gray to dark red. Sun spots are typically only found on areas of the skin that receive regular sun exposure, such as the face, neck, hands, or arms.
While most often completely harmless to your health, it is important to keep an eye on them. If you notice irregular borders or black pigmentation, the area should be evaluated for potential signs of cancer.
Sun spots can be uncomfortable or itchy, but for most, the sun spots are primarily a cosmetic concern, as they are more difficult to cover up than freckles.
The most common risk factors for sun spots include:
- Over the age of 40
- Fair skin
- Prolonged sun exposure
- Frequent tanning bed use
Sun spots are diagnosed by a your physician during a regular examination. Treatment is not required, but many want them removed.
The following treatments are used for sun damage or sun spots:
The best way to avoid sun spots is with proper protection. We encourage everyone to apply high SPF sunscreen daily with both UVA and UVB protection. Apply it 30 minutes before going outdoors and remember to reapply every two hours, especially if swimming. It's also advisable to try to avoid being out in the sun during early to mid-afternoon when the rays are most intense.
With proper treatment, many patients are happy with the reduction in sun spots. To learn more about treatment options a team member at Seriously Skin is happy to provide additional information.