Sun Damage on Skin: Causes, Prevention and Treatment Options

No one likes sunburns, but sun-damaged skin is on a whole different level. Sun damage is typically cumulative, caused by several days of exposure to UV rays. Obviously, staying out of the sun (especially the intense midday sun) is the best way to prevent sun damage to your skin. Sunscreen and protective wear can also help.

But if you already have sun damage on skin, how can you treat it so it can look youthful again? Your best chance is to visit a dermatologist for a procedure such as laser skin resurfacing, fillers, or chemical peels.

Read on to learn more.

What is sun damage on skin?

Sun damage on the skin, also known as photoaging or photodamage, is the premature aging of the skin due to continuous exposure to UV rays. This damage can come from natural UV sources (the sun) or artificial ones such as tanning beds and sun lamps. UV rays make your skin age quicker than expected, but they can also increase your chances of developing skin cancer. So there’s every reason to limit your exposure, especially during midday when there’s intense sunlight.

Is photoaging the same as chronological skin aging?

Your skin will age naturally, whether or not it’s exposed to sunlight. You cannot prevent it. On the other hand, photoaging is premature aging due to sun exposure, in that you start looking older than your age. The cells of the skin change due to exposure. Photodamage is preventable.

What are the treatment options for sun damage?

Since photodamage alters the DNA of your skin cells, the damage can’t be completely reversed. But there are treatment options to help rejuvenate the skin.

Some of the treatment options for sun damage include:

  • Retinoids: These are great for treating early signs of photoaging, and you apply the serum topically. Retinoids and retinol promote skin cell turnover so that old skin dies off and a new youthful one emerges.
  • Antioxidants: Antioxidants such as Vitamin C can help slow down skin damage by neutralizing free radicals that make signs of aging visible. Antioxidants are generally effective in antiaging and reducing skin damage due to UV rays.
  • Skin whitening agents: You can apply whitening or lightening agents to sunspots, skin blemishes, and uneven pigmentation, and they will slowly even out, giving you finer-looking skin.
  • Alpha hydroxy acid: This serum works as an exfoliant to encourage skin cell turnover.

All of the above options are available over the counter, and you can apply topically DIY. However, more advanced dermatology treatments like chemical peels may be your best bet if you want a faster remedy for sun-damaged skin. You’ll have to visit a medical spa or cosmetic clinic to get it done. The options include:

Dermal fillers: Botox is one of the most popular dermatology treatments available today, and it is very effective for photodamage. Other dermal fillers include hyaluronic acid and calcium hydroxyapatite. Dermal fillers can treat wrinkles and give volume to loose skin.

Chemical peels: This is a cosmetic procedure whereby a chemical liquid, such as glycolic acid, is applied to your skin. It peels off the top layer of your skin to reveal new, youthful skin. Brown spots, wrinkles, and other blemishes can be eliminated, and your skin tone and texture improve.

Laser skin resurfacing: This procedure involves using a laser to remove the damaged outermost layer of the skin. This will allow new, more even skin to emerge while stimulating collagen production. Laser treats various skin conditions other than sun damage, including age spots, pigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles.

Photodynamic therapy: This procedure involves coating your skin with some substance and then applying fluorescent light to activate the substance. Photodynamic therapy is excellent for destroying precancerous cells if they are already developing. The treatment may cause sunburn as a side effect, but the sun damage will disappear.

Red Light Therapy Beds: These beds utilize red light wavelengths to penetrate the skin and stimulate cellular rejuvenation. Red light therapy beds work by boosting collagen production, which helps in reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and sunspots caused by photodamage. The red light emitted by these beds aids in healing and repairing damaged skin cells, contributing to a more youthful and healthier complexion.

Dermabrasion: As the name suggests, the procedure “sands” away the top layer of the skin through abrasion to reveal the fresh-looking skin underneath. Dermabrasion is an excellent treatment option if you already have wrinkles alongside sun damage.

Cosmetic surgery: Facelifts, neck lifts, and other cosmetic surgery can help correct the visible signs of photoaging on your skin. These procedures also work well for treating sagging skin and deep wrinkles. So if you’re in your advanced years but wish to look youthful and more energetic, you can’t go wrong.

Next steps

So, there you have it. Now you know the cause of sun damage and how to prevent or treat it. If it isn’t a problem yet, wear sunscreen and protective clothing like hats and stay out of intense sunlight. If it’s already a problem, get OTC medication or visit your dermatologist.

Images courtesy of and

For more Health from H&N Magazine



Most Popular