15+ years of experience

How to Tell if You Have Sun Damage

Woman shielding skin from sun damage.

It’s okay to love the sun. But loving the sun too much without taking the proper skin care precautions can lead to sun damage.

You won’t notice it at first, but sun damage accumulates over years of UV exposure. In addition to adding to your risk of skin cancer, sun damage can affect the way your skin looks and contribute to premature aging.

What Causes Sun Damage to Skin?

You may have heard of UVA and UVB rays, but do you really know what they mean? Both are forms of radiation that are harmful to the skin. UVA radiation affects the skin through all of its layers, from the surface layer to the collagen and elastin in the deeper levels. UVB light primarily damages the outer layer of the skin. The significant damage caused by UVB radiation can actually affect your DNA and can cause the formation of precancerous cells.

You can prevent the damage caused by both of these types of rays by shielding your skin from the sun. For example, physical barriers such as clothing, hats, or visors, and staying indoors during peak hours are good options. When outdoors, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with 30 SPF or higher and reapply often. Even if you haven’t been diligent about protecting your skin in the past, it is all the more reason to be vigilant about skin protection now in order to avoid additional damage.

Signs of Sun Damage

Because sun damage takes years to appear, you may not notice it at first. In addition, sun damage can show up in different ways, and the sun’s effect on skin differs from person to person.

Brown Spots

Hyperpigmentation is a common sign of sun damage. This can manifest as subtle uneven pigmentation or defined dark spots. While some pigmentation differences occur due to genetics, hyperpigmentation that appears and worsens over time may be a result of sun damage.

Wrinkles and Fine Lines

The rays of the sun can affect and damage the collagen and elastin in the deep levels of your skin. Collagen acts as a supportive structure, and elastin makes the skin bounce back to its natural shape. When these proteins are damaged, skin becomes more prone to wrinkles.

Sagging Skin

Loose skin, or loss of skin tone, is another side-effect of sun damage to collagen and elastin. In addition to wrinkles, loss of these proteins means drooping or sunken-looking skin.

Spider Veins

A further result of the loss of collagen and elastin can mean less support for your blood vessels. This may lead to spider veins or broken capillaries across the skin. This not only occurs on the face but on other areas of the body, such as the chest.

Rough Skin Texture

A rough, dry skin texture can also be a result of sun exposure. This may appear overall or be in patches resulting in an uneven texture. Keep an eye out for symptoms of Actinic Keratosis, which is a precancerous patch of the skin characterized by dryness, a rough texture, and sensitivity, and sometimes is scaly or discolored.

Sun Damage Treatment

It is possible to reverse some of the visible signs of sun damage to your skin. In fact, there are a variety of treatment options available to address many of these issues.

  • Laser Skin Resurfacing can treat brown spots as well as fine lines and wrinkles.
  • A Photofacial can treat hyperpigmentation, spider veins, and uneven texture.
  • Chemical peels are a quick and inexpensive option that exfoliates the outer layers of the skin to reduce many of the signs of sun damage.
  • Ultherapy is a skin-tightening treatment that reduces sagging and promotes collagen regeneration. Ultherapy is a non-invasive treatment that utilizes ultrasound technology to tighten skin.

Which treatment or combination of treatments is right for you will depend on your particular skin. Schedule a consultation with our experts for a detailed evaluation and to discuss these and other available options for treating sun-damaged skin.