Sun Damage

Sun Damage

When sunlight hits your skin, it damages healthy cells. Without sun protection, this damage can build up. In time, you see signs of sun damage like freckles, age spots, and wrinkles. Some people develop precancerous skin growths, skin cancer, or both.

Every time you go outdoors without sun protection or use a tanning bed, ultraviolet (UV) light damages your skin. With time, this damage builds up and you see changes to your skin, which can make you look years older than you naturally would.

These changes include:

  • Wrinkles

  • Age spots

  • Loose skin

  • Spider veins

  • Blotchy or ruddy complexion

If you use tanning beds, you’ll notice these changes quickly — often in a few years. Some people who use tanning beds see signs within a year or even sooner.

The medical term for these changes is “photoaging.” You may also hear the terms “premature aging” or “sun-damaged skin.”

As the damage builds, you may see deep lines or dry, scaly patches called actinic keratoses (AKs). An AK is a pre-cancerous skin growth. Sun damage can also lead to skin cancer. And sometimes an AK turns into a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.

While much of the damage is permanent, treatment can reduce some signs of sun damage that are making you look older.

To treat signs of aging, board-certified dermatologists often use more than one type of treatment. This helps to treat the different signs of aging. It also helps to give you a natural and healthy appearance, so you don’t look like you’ve had “work done.”

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