Everybody loves getting outside in the sun on a summer day. Whether it’s the lake, lounging around the pool, or a water park, we spend hours having fun in the sun. But, we all know that the sun can wreak havoc on our skin. Even when we use sunscreens and protect ourselves with hats and glasses, we can get skin damage all too easily. But the good news is, it’s not too late to protect your skin from the sun, and even reverse the damage that’s already been done. But before we talk about repairing your sun damaged skin, let’s make sure you know what to look for so you can recognize any sun damage your skin may have already received.
What Does Sun Damaged Skin Look Like?
There are basically three different types of skin damage from the sun:
Sunspots – Sunspots are small flat spots that appear as darker patches and resemble freckles. They usually appear in places where your skin is heavily exposed like your face, chest, shoulders and the back of your hands.
Blotchiness – The sun causes your skin to produce melanin that makes it look darker or sun-tanned. But sometimes sun exposure creates an uneven increase in melanin production, which causes irregular pigmentation of the skin.
Reddish Patches – The sun can also cause a permanent stretching of small blood vessels, giving your skin a mottled, reddish appearance.
So what can you do about sunspots, blotchiness and blood vessel damage?
Treatments for Sun Damaged Skin
Once damaged, the goal is to do things that help the skin regenerate and then protect it from further harm. At Aesthetics KC, we have several skin rejuvenation treatment options that will help your skin look and feel better, more resilient, and younger. Medications such as Retinol, glycolic acid and vitamin C can help your skin by encouraging cell turnover and increasing collagen production. These topical treatments will gradually fade sunspots and improve skin tone and texture over time, but we find that most people are hoping to see a faster and more dramatic difference. Here are the top three we recommend:
1. Chemical Peels
Chemical peels work by removing the top layer of skin. The acid in a chemical peel essentially burns away sunspots, wrinkles, and other undesirable skin conditions and reveals unblemished skin as it heals. Chemical peels come in various strength levels and there is some downtime involved while the skin heals, but they can quickly improve uneven pigmentation, skin texture, and the appearance of sunspots and wrinkles. Chemical peels can either be performed in a series or as a one-time treatment, depending on the peel depth. The stronger/deeper the peel, the longer recovery time.
Microdermabrasion also works by removing the outermost skin layer and encouraging new, healthy, vibrant skin. During a microdermabrasion session, a skin specialist will use a specialized tool that exfoliates the top layer of skin, removing sun spots, discoloration, wrinkles, and even some acne scars and smooths out skin texture overall. Chemical peels will ultimately provide better, more targeted relief when it comes to specific issues, but they can cost more and require downtime. Microdermabrasion is a better choice if budget or downtime are a concern.
3. Intense Pulsed Light Therapy (IPL)
IPL also called photo rejuvenation is another great choice to reduce the effects of sun damage. IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) therapy works well on the face, neck and chest areas. This non-invasive method reduces redness from blood vessels, rosacea, blotchiness, sun spots, and also promotes collagen renewal. AestheticKC uses the Lumenis M22™ IPL System with patented state-of-the-art technology for maximum results and safety.
Prevention Is the Best Protection against Skin Damage
Only you can control how much sun your skin is exposed to. Follow these tips to minimize sun damage to your skin:
- Limit your time in the sun
- Apply and reapply sunscreen as needed
- Wear clothing for maximum UV protection
- Drink lots of water
- Use moisturizer
- Use lip balm with sunscreen
Signs of Skin Cancer
If you see anything on your skin that looks questionable see your dermatologist right away. Here are some signs to look for:
- A mole that changes shape or color
- Redness or swelling around a mole
- Color that spreads from the border of a spot into surrounding skin
- Scaly skin or open skin that bleeds or weeps
- Itching or tenderness that won’t go away or goes away then comes back