Even though a sunburn fades, sun damage can have a lasting effect on your skin. Protecting your skin from harmful ultraviolet rays is the first step toward preventing long-lasting damage. Understanding the signs of skin damage that can occur is also essential. This knowledge empowers you with the ability to identify problems before they worsen and seeing a dermatologist for a checkup.
Sun Protection Basics
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends wearing a sunscreen featuring SPF 15 or higher every day. Sunscreen should be applied daily, no matter the weather forecast or how much time you intend to spend outdoors. When you are outdoors for extended periods of time, you should reapply sunscreen throughout the day — at least every two hours — to ensure your skin is well protected. At Dermatology Center of Indiana, we recommend going with SPF30 plus for summer sun protection. These proactive measures help reduce the risk of long-term sun damage.
Common Signs of Sun Damage
When powerful UV rays leave you with a sunburn, you have both short- and long-term concerns. If your sunburned skin is more than a touch pink and instead is red, swollen and even covered in blisters, you might be facing a second-degree burn. Repeated instances of excessive sun exposure might result in small, discolored spots, or sun spots, to appear. Brown, gray or red spots on your skin can develop due to long-term sun exposure.
Sun damage can also result in an aged skin appearance as well. You might notice wrinkles cropping up on skin that gets a lot of sun exposure. UV radiation can wear down your skin’s elastin, which results in saggy, stretched-out skin. As a result, sun-damaged skin might even feature a leathery appearance. Scaly red or brown patches on your skin, a condition called actinic keratosis, is another negative effect of sun exposure.
Finally, in the most extreme and serious cases, sun damage can result in skin cancer. Several types of skin cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma and melanoma, can develop after excessive and long-term sun exposure.
Treating Sun Damage
These sun-induced skin conditions can be treated and, in some cases, removed completely. Sun spots can be eliminated through a number of treatments, including skin-bleaching creams, many of which include such ingredients as Retin-A and hydroquinone. Laser treatments can also target areas of skin discoloration. Actinic keratosis patches can be frozen off using liquid nitrogen. Even skin cancer, when caught early, can respond well to such treatment as removal of the cancerous spot on the skin.
Each of these important treatments is available in our office. Reversing the negative effects of sun damage, while ensuring your skin is healthy and cancer free, is possible at The Dermatology Center of Indiana. Come in and talk to one of our doctors or estheticians at one of our Indiana locations or call us to schedule a consultation today!