Skin sun damage
Skin sun damage can happen anywhere. Have you ever spent time in the sun? Have you ever been sun burnt? Have you spent a lot of time outdoors? If you answered yes to any of these, then your skin is at risk of for sun damage.
Skin sun damage occurs when your skin is over exposed to the sun. The more sun exposure you have had over the course of your life the more likely you will have sun damage. Sun damage can occur whenever your skin is exposed to the sun. Wherever there is sunlight, there is ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and there is a risk of sun damage.
Sun damage facts
- 25% of our lifetime sun exposure occurs before the age of 18. This means the majority of sun damage actually occurs after the age of 18.
- Suffering with one or more blistering sunburns in childhood or adolescence more than doubles your chances of developing melanoma, which can be fatal.
- Sun damage is cumulative; we get 10% more sun damage every decade after 18.
- 19-40 years of age – 47% of our sun damage has occurred
- 41-59 years of age – 74% of our sun damage has occurred
- 60 -78 years of age – 100% of our sun damage has occurred
- Higher levels of (melanin) color in the skin, the more protected a skin is. Higher levels of melanin mean less sunburn and less skin cancer, but even the darkest skin is not protected 100%.
- Sun damage isn’t only skin deep. UV radiation alters the actual DNA of your skin cells.
- Once you start protecting yourself from the sun, you will stop the process of additional damage and start to reverse what you’ve already accumulated.
What does skin sun damage look like?
Texture Changes – Sun damage can lead to changes in the texture of the skin. Years of sun damage can lead to the outer layer of the skin becoming thinner or thicker. When it becomes thinner it can easily blister and tear. Sun damage can also lead to the skin becoming thicker such as yellow thickened bumps.
Sun Spots (solar keratosis) – The over activity of tanning cells (melanocytes) caused by years of sun exposure can result in the skin changing color. The color of the sun spots can vary, from being brown, white or red. Brown freckles, small white spots, lesions are all signs of sun damage.
For some people the sun spots may be painful, itchy, or may sting when exposed to sunlight. People with sun spots should get them examined by a doctor on a regular basis.
Fine lines and wrinkles – Sun damage can cause the skin to thicken and reduce the skins ability to retain moisture. This will lead to the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, very often around the eyes and mouth.
It is very important to limit your sun exposure and always use sun protection. It is also very important to know your skin so you can identify possible areas of skin sun damage and bring them to the attention of your doctor as early as possible.
Next week, I will talk about antioxidants and treatments that will help reverse sun damage.