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Sun Damaged Skin

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What is it?

The sun’s heat dries out areas of unprotected skin and depletes the skin’s supply of natural lubricating oils. In addition, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation can cause burning and long-term changes in the skin’s structure.

What are the symptoms?

Sun-damaged skin shows four main symptoms. The first is dry skin, where the skin appears dry and flaky. Dry skin is also one of the most common causes of itching. The second is sunburn, which in its mildest form causes pain and redness on sun-exposed skin. More severe cases of sunburn produce painful blisters, sometimes together with nausea and dizziness. The third symptom is Actinic Keratosis which appears as a small bump that feels like sandpaper, or a persistent patch of scaly (peeling) skin that may have a jagged or even sharp surface and that has a pink, yellow, red or brownish tint. At first, an Actinic Keratosis may be the size of a pimple. Rarely, an Actinic Keratosis may itch or be slightly tender. The fourth and final is symptoms of collagen changes, which include fine lines, deeper wrinkles, a thickened skin texture and easy bruising on sun-exposed areas, especially the back of the hands and forearms.

What are the causes?

Over exposure to the sun/UV radiation and negligence in the use of skin protection damages your skin.

What should you avoid?

To prevent sun-damaged skin, the first step would be applying sunscreen before going outdoors. Choosing a water-resistant sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or above, with a broad spectrum of protection against both UV-A and UV-B rays is essential. Some people are not aware that they should apply sunblock on the lips as well. To reduce the risk of over exposure, it is recommended to limit time outdoors when the sun is at its peak, wear sunglasses with UV light protection, and wear long pants, a shirt with long sleeves and a hat with a wide brim. Some medicines and skincare products can increase the skin's risk of UV damage. Also non-prescription skincare products containing alpha-hydroxy acids can make the skin more vulnerable to damage from sunlight. To help detect Actinic Keratosis and other skin abnormalities in their earliest stages, the entire skin surface should be examined thoroughly every one to two months.

Who is affected?

People who over expose themselves by sun bathing or tanning and using sun beds for artificial tans, are prone to sun damaged skin. Individuals who could be susceptible to sun damage take medication which includes certain antibiotics that are used to treat psychiatric illness, high blood pressure, heart failure, acne and allergies. Adults above the age of 50 and babies are more likely to damage their skin from the sun as their skin is thinner. People with fair skin are affected by the sun more than darker skinned people.

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