Signs of Sun Damage: Appearance, Prevention, and Repair

Lady enjoying sunbath

Long-term sun exposure causes visible damage to our skin. In fact, 90% of the changes in our skin are due to over-exposure to the sun. Sun exposure causes your skin to age faster. What’s even worse, the ultra-violet rays from the sun can also cause skin cancer, severe sunburn, and sun poisoning. You may wonder: how do I tell if I’ve had too much sun? Let’s dive into the signs of sun-damaged skin.

Types of Sun Damage

  • Wrinkles: The skin sags and becomes stretchy because the skin fibers and collagen have been exposed to the UV light for too long.

  • Freckles: These are flat, brown circular shaped spots that can occur from sun exposure. They appear mostly on the face and are particularly common on people with a fair complexion. Constant exposure of sun causes them to darken.

  • Sunburn: If you feel that your skin is hot, it has turned red and you have mild pain then you have a sunburn. Depending on how long you have been exposed, it can be a first degree or second-degree sunburn where damage has extended to the deep layers of the skin causing blisters and more pain.

  • Dry Skin: Your skins becomes dry, wrinkled, flaky and dehydrated as opposed to the unexposed skin. Dry skin can sometimes be itchy.

  • Chapped lips: When people take precaution against sun exposure, they often forget the lips. Just like any other part of your body, your lips get affected too. They become very dry, chapped, itchy and even painful causing a condition called actinic cheilitis.

  • Sun spots: After many years of exposure, your skin develops large freckle-like spots. These discolored spots grow darker and increase as you age. They are a different texture from your skin, oddly shaped and sometimes have different colors in one spot.

  • Uneven pigmentation: As a way of protecting itself from the sun damage, the skin over-produces melanin which makes your skin look darker or reddish on some parts. Therefore, you find some parts of your skin looking darker than others.

Preventing Sun Damage

  • Invest in a sunscreen and apply it every time you leave your house. Go for a water-resistant sunscreen and one that has a broad-spectrum SPF of over 30. Reapply every time you sweat or wash it off.

  • For your lips, slather a moisturizer specifically made for the lips with an SPF of over 30.

  • Limit your outdoor time especially when the sun is at its peak from 10 am to 3 pm (standard) and 11am to 4pm (daylight savings). This time will depend on where you are though, for some regions the sun is hot earlier than others.

  • Invest in sunglasses with a UV light protector, wide brim hats, long trousers, and shirts containing UPF.

Sun Damaged Skin Repair

There is no one size fits all treatment to reverse sun damage. The treatment depends on skin type as well as many other factors. At home, you can treat dry skin with a moisturizer on your skin. Invest in moisturizers rich in oils like coconut oil, and argan oil, as well as sunscreen.

For more serious forms of sun damage it is recommended that you consult with a dermatologist. The professionals at Schweiger Dermatology Group have years of experience targeting sun damage with methods such as chemical peels, Intense Pulsed Light, Fraxel laser , Clear + Brilliant laser, microdermabrasion and micro-needling. Schedule an appointment to find out what the best treatment option is for you.


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About Schweiger Dermatology Group

Schweiger Dermatology Group was founded to help make excellent dermatology care accessible throughout the Northeast. In 2010, Dr. Eric Schweiger started the practice with a single location in Midtown Manhattan. When he saw the need for high-quality dermatology care that did not require weeks or months of waiting to see a qualified provider, his vision of a multi-location practice was born.

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