Sun Damage Part 1
Anyone who’s a client of mine has most likely heard me say at least once, “wear sunscreen” or “stay out of the sun!” Sun damaged skin is a very real and awful thing. As summer slowly…and I mean very slowly, creeps up on us I felt it was important to talk about forms of damage the sun can do to skin. Keep in mind, that although many of what will be listed happens on predominantly fairer skin tones, it is very much possible to happen to darker complexions. This topic will be broken up into a two part blog; sun damage, and sunblock. It’s super important to understand how sun damage occurs and the forms it can come in, so that you can truly value protecting your skin.
Naturally, our skin absorbs vitamin D from sunlight which helps our bone formation, however too much exposure to the ultraviolet (UV) rays can be very destructive to our skin. The top layer of our skin (aka the epidermal) is made up of melanin pigmented cells. The purpose of the melanin in our skin is to protect us from the sun’s UV rays. If you spend too much time in the sun, especially without any protection, then the UV rays will injure your epidermis, penetrate into the deeper layers of your skin, and will harm and/or kill those skin cells. Listed below are some of those most popular types of damage that can occur from over exposure to UV rays. Please note that there are many more types of damages that go beyond this list.
· Tanned skin – Many don’t realize that as beautiful as having a tan is, getting tanned by the sun is actually extremely harmful. A tan is really just an injury that occurred on the top layer of your skin.
· First degree burns – Because it’s from the sun rather than the tip of your curling wand, some don’t believe that the sun can give you first degree burns, however the burn symptoms are all the same; mild pain, soft to touch, redness, peeling .
· Second degree burns – This damage happens to the deep layers of your skin and nerve endings. It takes longer to heal and you may experience blistering and swelling.
· Wrinkles - UV rays damage collagen and elastin, forming wrinkled saggy, stretched out skin. Spending too much time in the sun, especially while young, can cause premature aging in the skin.
· Uneven tone - areas look darker than others. Can make lasting changes in small blood vessels which will give you a red/rosacea look.
· Freckles – while freckles aren’t bad for you, some cancers can look like one in their early stages. If it changes/itches/bleeds see your doctor immediately.
· Melasma (aka “the pregnancy mask”) - this can also happen to women who aren’t pregnant as well as men. It looks like a tanned/brown patch on your face in specific areas like upper lip, nose, cheeks and forehead. Apply sunscreen so it doesn’t deepen.
· Age Spots (solar lentigines) – although these worsen as you age, they are caused from UV rays, not age. They most often appear on hands, face, and chest.
· Melanoma – this one is definitely the MOST serious. The damage will change the size/shape/flatness of a mole or coloured area. It affects skin, but also spread to organs and bones. Contact your doctor immediately if you sense you have this.
It’s important to note that many of these skin injuries are treatable with doctor recommended creams, medications, or laser treatments like skin rejuvenation!
Now that we know how the sun can harm our skin and the different types of injuries we’re risking by being out and unprotected in the sun, in my next blog post I will discuss sun protection, potency, and SPF!