Sun damage occurs when unprotected skin has been exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays that damage the skin, resulting in a wide variety of skin concerns including skin discoloration, sun spots, brown spots, melasma, rosacea, signs of aging and melanoma. Other names for sun damage are photoaging, photodamage and solar damage. While we can’t avoid the sun, we can wear sunscreen with a sufficient SPF and ensure to reapply throughout the day when outside to protect our skin as much as possible against sun damage.
Sun damage is a cause for concern because UV light can alter DNA and cause skin damage at the cellular level and lead to skin cancer. Immediate signs of sun damage include sunburns, dry skin, cracked skin and blisters. Long term effects of sun damage include age spots, which often appear as larger freckles, rosacea and melasma. Atypical moles are also caused by sun damage and should be evaluated immediately for signs of cancer. Atypical moles are moles that have an uneven border and surface, changes in color, itches or bleeds.
Sun damage at the cellular level is irreversible, however, certain side effects of sun damage may be alleviated with professional aesthetic treatments. Treatments such as chemical peels, microneedling, LED therapy, radiofrequency therapy, microdermabrasion and laser therapy are all professional procedures which may help reverse some of the skin discoloration resulting from sun damage.