Sun damage comes in many different forms. Some of the different signs and symptoms of sun damage are age spots, uneven pigmentation, melasma (brown or grey patches of skin) , freckles, moles, wrinkles, fine lines, loose skin and spider veins. Even a suntan is a sign that the skin is sun-damaged and has been exposed to too much UV, which stimulates an increase of melanin (the dark pigment that gives the appearance of a tan) in an attempt to prevent any further damage. And don’t think sunburn is a short-term issue. When the suntan fades away it can lead to premature ageing which can manifest itself years down the line.
Exposing unprotected skin to the sun’s damaging rays for too long causes sun damage. The rays emitted by the sun can be divided into two main types, ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB). Both types damage unprotected skin but UVB rays – the rays we most commonly associate with tanning are responsible for 96% of sunburn cases. The intensity of UVB rays varies according to factors such as geographical location, time of day and the season.
We need some exposure to sunlight as it is an important source of vitamin D, but overexposure to UV rays (ultraviolet radiation) damages the skin’s cellular DNA
Vitamin C – one of the most effective antioxidants for treating and preventing sunspots, along with other signs of photoaging. It brightens the skin and is good for exfoliation, while protecting the skin from further UV damage
*Retinol – another great choice for improving hyperpigmentation, which works by targeting pigment trapped below the skin’s surface, boosting cell turnover to lift and exfoliate.
* Hydroquinone a skin lightener designed to stop pigment at its source by suppressing the overproduction of melanin while simultaneously lifting pigment
*Glycolic Acid/Tranexamic Acid -helps to resurface skin lifting pigment, boosting collagen while also h fading discolouration, lines and wrinkles
Lumecca: The latest and most advanced IPL intense pulsed light system can treat superficial pigmentation and freckles, zap dark spots, boost collagen and improve skin tone. You may need a course of treatments, one a month
Laser: More intensive laser treatments using a C02 laser such as Smartxide are able to penetrate deeper into the dermis and can be helpful for more pronounced pigmentation. A course of treatments is recommended.
Chemical Peels: A great way to lift pigment and restore radiance and a great option for people with darker skin tones who are experiencing pigmentation. Peels can range from mild (glycolic) to deep peels (such as TCA) and all work to deeply exfoliate the skin to reduce pigment while improving skin tone so that it reflects light better. Typically three to six treatments (possibly more) spaced out by three to four weeks is needed to see results. Note: Deeper peels may only require one or two treatments.
*PDT (Photodynamic Therapy): A light therapy Ideal for the face and chest and can completely rejuvenate sun-damaged skin. It is also used to target both cancerous and pre-cancerous melanoma It works by eradicating the damaged cells: first a cream containing a light sensitizing chemical is applied to the treatment area, and covered for a length of time to allow the cream to penetrate into the sun damaged skin cells. Then, an intensive light is shone on to the treated area, targeting the damaged cells, which fall away. The body then replaces the damaged cells with new healthy skin cells
Microneedling: The lunchtime skin booster helps plump and tighten skin, reduce pores and helps soften sun-induced wrinkles, A barrel-like hand roller called a Dermaroller, with hundreds of very fine needles, thinner than your own hair, is rolled over the skin, leaving tiny pinpricks. This is perceived by the body as damage which activates a wound heal response to regenerate the skin.
The treatment is ideal for the face, décolletage and arms.
Prevention is the best treatment by wearing a daily sunscreen with a minimum SPF30 every day of the year
*Include Vitamin C products in your routine as they protect against free radicals and increase the effectiveness of sunscreen
* Foods high in antioxidants can aid skin repair – go for blueberries, strawberries, blackberries – while oily fish and salmon, contain essential fatty acids essential for younger-looking skin.
*A suspicious mole? If you see something that isn’t healing after three to four weeks or is growing, you need to seek medical advice. Other signs to look out for are moles or patches of normal skin that change, shape or colour a mole or spot that hurts, bleeds, itches or scabs or a new mole.
* Beware of sun sensitivity. If you are taking prescription medication ask your doctor or pharmacist to see if they affect your skin’s reaction to the sun and heat. Some people who suffer sunscreen irritation find that mineral SPFs do not irritate their skin and mineral make-up is great for the face as it offers protection and will not irritate the skin.