Healthy Tan or Damaged Skin? How to Detect and Prevent Sun DamageApr 13, 2018
When the weather is nice, we all start spending a lot more time in the sun. That’s great! It’s healthy for people to get some exposure to the sun, but we also need to be careful about it.
The truth is, the sun emits harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This radiation can damage skin like freckles and cosmetic blemishes, but it can also lead to more serious conditions like cancer. Sun damage doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a gradual process through repeated exposure to the sun’s harmful rays. This means that the effects may not appear for years. But it’s never too late to start protecting your skin from sun damage!
Signs of Sun Damaged Skin
Tans or sunburns are two visible signs of sun damage. A tan reveals that your skin has attempted to protect itself from sun damage by producing melanin, the brown pigment that colors the outer layer of skin. And sunburns indicate damaged skin cell DNA, which increases your risk for skin cancer.
Here are a few signs that you have sun-damaged skin:
- Change in Texture – Skin may become dull and leathery.
- Age Spots – As sun exposure increases so does the body’s production of melanin, which leads to the gradual appearance of blotches in skin tone and brown, black or gray spots on the face, chest, shoulders and hands.
- Wrinkles – As the sun depletes collagen and elastin, the substances that keep skin firm and flexible, skin sags and wrinkles appear which make you look older.
- Red or Inflamed Skin – Symptoms of sunburn such as heat, pain, redness or blisters indicate damage to the epidermis.
The best way to maintain a youthful appearance and avoid skin cancer is to make sun protection a part of daily life. Take extra precautions when outdoors. Always apply sunscreen and wear protective clothing, such as hats and sunglasses. Limit the amount of time you spend in direct sunlight and seek shade when possible. Tanning beds are just as harmful to your skin and should also be avoided.
When to Visit Your Dermatologist
Sun damage should not be overlooked. It may be time to visit your dermatologist about potential sun damage if you:
- Experience a severe sunburn with blistering or other serious side effects, or if you have a history of sunburns
- Notice changes to existing skin growths or develop new or irregular shaped moles or spots, as these could be indications that you have skin cancer
- Have sun spots on your skin, especially if they appear suddenly or are dark in color
- Have a family history of skin cancer
At a minimum, you should visit a dermatologist once a year to have your body inspected for moles or growths. A dermatologist will look for signs of cancer and offer cosmetic treatments to reduce the visible signs of sun damage, such as wrinkles, fine lines and age spots.
About Center for Dermatology in Lakeville, Minnesota
The dermatology professionals at the Center for Dermatology are pleased to welcome you to our practice. We provide medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatology services in Lakeville, MN. We know how hectic life can be and are committed to making our practice convenient and accessible.
We want you to feel confident that when you choose the Center for Dermatology, you’re working with health care professionals who are qualified, experienced and caring. We invite you to schedule an appointment for your next skin checkup. We look forward to meeting you!