Too Many Rays: Top Signs You Have Sun Damaged Skin

According to the American Skin Association, no amount of tanning is healthy for your skin. That’s right, you don’t have to burn to end up with damaged skin.

In fact, consider every afternoon you spent out in the sun with no sunscreen, going all the way back to your childhood and teenage years. All of that sunning has had a cumulative effect on your skin, building up decades of damage.

For some of us, the damage isn’t bad enough to notice. However, for regular beach-dwellers, swimmers, and even snowboarders, all of that sun exposure is bound to catch up with us sooner or later!

Read on to learn more about the signs that your skin is sun-damaged and what treatments you can seek.

Common Myths About UV Rays and Damaged Skin

Before we begin, let’s talk about some of the myths surrounding sun damage. If you’re not a frequent sunbather, you may be misdiagnosing some of the symptoms of sun damage because you’re certain you haven’t been exposed to too many UV rays. However, you might be surprised by some of the ways that you can get sun damage!

Many people believe that using a tanning bed is better for their skin than laying out in direct sunlight. This, unfortunately, is not true. Tanning beds also use UV rays to create that golden tan, and UV rays are the real culprit.

You may think that an overcast day is a good day to go without sunblock. A fully cloudy sky will block a good deal of UV rays, although some are bound to slip through. On partly cloudy days, those wispy clouds could actually be enhancing the strength of UV rays, meaning that you’d better use more sunblock than normal!

Finally, you don’t have to be outside to get sun exposure. You can even get a sunburn while driving your car! Fortunately, your windshield should block a good deal of UV rays, but if you’re riding with the windows down, it’s advised that you use sunscreen on your arms and face.

Now, let’s talk about the signs that you have damaged skin from sun exposure.

Excess Wrinkles

Wrinkles and aging go hand and hand but so do wrinkles and sun exposure. In fact, scientists believe that for light-skinned people, up to 80% of their wrinkles are caused by exposure to UV rays.

Collagen is naturally produced by the body. It gives our skin strength as well as elasticity and hydration. All of these things combined make your skin look smooth and taut while also giving it a healthy natural glow.

Wrinkles occur most around the areas of the face that go through repetitive movements such as the vertical folds in our cheeks produced by a smile. UV rays penetrate the skin and, over time, break down the collagen your skin is producing. Without enough collagen to heal those areas, we see wrinkles begin to deepen.

Age Spots

Age spots are non-malignant dark spots that occur most on our face, arms, the backs of our hands. If your legs are or were exposed to the sun on a regular basis, you may develop them there, as well.

They are usually flat and have the same texture as the rest of your skin. When they first appear, they may be only slightly darker than the rest of your skin. As you age, they often grow and darken to a dark brown or even black color.

Age spots are areas that have overactive pigmentation cells. UV rays speed up the rate at which melanin is produced and over time this melanin starts to clump together, leaving behind those dark spots on the skin.

Age spots should not be confused with actinic keratosis, which causes brownish-red spots on the skin. These spots are often raised and may have a scaly texture that causes itching and discomfort. Actinic keratosis may be cancerous, and you should seek a dermatologist’s opinion right away.

Loose Skin

Many people who have had a lot of sun exposure throughout the years will notice that exposed areas may begin to sag. For frequent sunbathers, this sagging will often occur around the neck, although it can also show up around the underarms, thighs, and even stomach. This is also caused by the breakdown of collagen.

Dry Lips or Hair

We tend to forget about our lips and hair when we’re seeking protection from the sun. Of course, you don’t want to slather sunscreen all over your lips and hair, but you should invest in a lip balm with SPF and a UV-blocking hat if you’re going to spend a long time in the sun!

Lips can get sunburned just as easily as the rest of our skin. At first, your lips will feel sensitive and may even blister and peel. In the long run, you may be facing chronically dry and cracked lips due to long-term sun exposure.

Sun also leeches the moisture from our hair. We love a little sun-kissed highlighting in the summer, but too much exposure will lead to dry, washed-out hair. It will feel brittle and will break more easily when brushed or pulled.

Turn Back the Clock on Damaged Skin

We can’t take back the hours we spent in the sun as teenagers, forgoing sunscreen in pursuit of the perfect tan. We can, however, do something about those dark spots!

At Better Off, we offer a non-invasive laser treatment that will lighten dark spots and leave you with a more even skin tone. Lasers break up the pigmentation causing dark spots so that the body can remove them.

After the procedure, the area around these spots may appear darker. Then, the spots will form a crust that the skin can naturally shed. This whole process will take no more than two weeks!

To make an appointment or to ask about the specifics of our services, contact us today!