Sun Damage Explained
Sun damage (also known as photodamage) of the skin can either be acute like sunburn,
or chronic like the gradual changes of the skin caused by an accumulation of sun
exposure throughout your life. Chronic photo damage results in either a cosmetic
change in the skin's appearance, such as fine and coarse wrinkles, or changes that
are of medical and health concerns, such as pre-cancerous lesions. The sun can also
change skin through freckles, discolored areas of the skin, sallowness and more.
There's very strong evidence that ultraviolet light is the cause of many of the
changes associated with the premature signs of aging skin.
Hyperpigmentation is associated with an increase in melanin, the substance in the body
that contributes to color (pigment). Exposure to sunlight is a major cause of
hyperpigmentation, and will darken already hyperpigmented areas.
What's the Difference Between UVA & UVB Rays?
There are two types of UV rays-UVA and UVB-both of which can harm your skin. UVA
rays penetrate deep into the layers of the skin and leads to premature signs of
aging, which include fine lines and wrinkles. UVB rays are the primary cause of
sunburn, because they penetrate the outer layer of skin and cause damage to skin
Too much exposure from either UVA or UVB rays can play a part in causing skin
cancer. It's important to use sunscreen protection year-round, because the amount
of UVA stays relatively constant throughout the year, and also exceeds the amount of
UVB rays in both summer and winter. Even on a cloudy day, 80% of the sun's UVA
rays may pass through clouds. What's more, when it comes to tanning beds, it's
important to know that tanning beds work by emitting primarily UVA rays, which penetrate
deep into the skin.
What can you do to protect your skin against UVA and UVB rays?
Because SPF measures protection against sunburn caused primarily by UVB rays, be sure your sunscreen protects against UVA rays as well by choosing products that provide both UVA and UVB
protection. These are usually labeled "broad spectrum," and are available as body and face sunscreens as well as daily moisturizers.
Wear or use a broad spectrum sunscreen every day to protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun.
Apply generous amounts of sunscreen, especially when you are active outdoors.
Use a water resistant sunscreen when swimming or sweating, and always choose a sunscreen that offers an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or higher.
SPF may be used to measure how long you can stay in the sun with sunscreen before
getting burned. If you apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 30, for example, when applied sufficiently, that
indicates it will take 30 times longer for your skin to begin to burn than if you did
not wear any sunscreen protection at all. With this in mind, you should reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours and after swimming, towel dry, and apply again for extended sun exposure.
We recommend that you consult your dermatologist or physician for proper diagnosis and treatment.