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Leading Dermatologist, Dr Daniel Glass from The Dermatology clinic London (www.thedermatologyclinic.london) gives an insight into how we can try to reverse these signs of sun damage and skin ageing.
We often associate sun kissed skin with good health, but in fact UV exposure accounts for approximately 75% of skin ageing and is avoidable. UV rays from the sun leads to the fragmentation of collagen fibres and a breakdown of collagen, which over time leads to sun damaged skin. Even one tenth of the sun exposure it takes for you skin to go red is enough to affect the collagen in your skin. Sun induced skin damage causes roughness, dryness, changes in pigmentation, such as sun spots, fine and mainly coarse wrinkles and telangiectasia (prominent small red vessels on the skin). The effects of sun damage accumulate over time. In fact, some studies show that sun-related skin ageing can be detected even before the age of twenty.
But how can we try to avoid and reverse this damage?
Prevention is better than cure, so stay protected
Overexposure to Ultraviolet light can also lead to more serious issues, such as skin cancer and since sun damage accumulates over time, it's never too late to start a sun protection routine. Most of us understand the importance of wearing sun cream on a hot sunny day, but it is equally important that we follow a stringent sun care regimen, even on the more overcast sunny days.
Actively trying to get a sun tan is not advisable. During the summer months or whilst on holiday in sunnier climes, avoid sitting out in the middle of the day. If you are going to be in the sun, it is important to protect your skin with shade, clothing and a sun cream which protects you from UVB and UVA rays. Both UVA and UVB can alter your skin and over time can be associated with coarser wrinkling, a leathery appearance and sagging of the skin. In the UK many sunscreen products sold have a star rating for UVA protection, with five-star protection being the highest. It is always best to apply your chosen, broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 50 before you go outside and reapply every 2 or 3 hours throughout the day.
What does sun damaged skin look like?
Skin ageing caused by sun damage can present itself in many ways, depending on where it is found on body, even when it appears in the same person.
Poikiloderma of Civatte is the name given to red skin discolouration caused by sun exposure, which often appears on the sides of the neck and upper central chest in people with fair skin. Laser and lightbased treatments can be useful in resolving this cosmetically problematic condition.
The back of the neck is an area that often develops coarse leathery wrinkles with chronic sun exposure, a change that is much harder to resolve.
It is not uncommon to get small patches of pigment loss particularly on the lower legs and forearms. This is thought to be caused by irreversible sun damage to the pigment cells (melanocytes). There is an overlap of intrinsic or chronological skin ageing with skin ageing due to sun exposure. This is demonstrated with the frequent development of red flat bruises particularly on the forearms as we get older. Some believe that this is because the forearms are most likely to be knocked on a day to day basis, however these red flat bruises do not seem to occur in skin that has not been exposed to the sun. There is no treatment available for this type of skin damage, apart from protecting yourself from the sun from an early age.
What treatments are there to reverse the damage?
Most of these changes in skin result from both intrinsic and extrinsic ageing. There are several treatments available to improve and possibly even reverse sun related skin damage, including topical therapies (creams), neurotoxin injections (Botox), soft tissue injectables, (fillers)and various nonablative and ablative laser procedures. The topical therapy which has the most evidence behind its use in skin ageing is topical retinoids, which can be found in both natural and synthetic forms. The gold- standard of this treatment is probably retinoic acid (tretinoin), which has multiple publications supporting its efficacy. Retinoids increase new collagen formation in both photoaged and naturally aged skin and prevent collagen degradation in the skin by blocking enzymes that break down collagen to help improve the appearances of wrinkles. Retinoic acid can also be used to some extent to improve skin pigmentation and the appearances of freckles and can improve skin smoothness.
However, as always, the best form of treatment is prevention; by adopting a stringent sun protection regimen from an early age.
Visit a Dermatologist
If you have concerns about your skin it is advisable to visit your dermatologist to discuss your skin issues and obtain a personalised treatment programme. For further information please contact via our websitewww.thedermatologycliniclondon.co.uk.