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Sun Damaged Skin | How to Prevent and Treat

July 15, 2011

Sun Damaged Skin

The term “sunburn” is an inflammatory reaction by your skin to the damage caused by ultraviolet light exposure.  Symptoms include painful red areas of skin which are exposed to excess UVB radiation and this reaction normally starts 4-6 hours after exposure and peaks at about 24 hours.  UVA radiation from the sun can also cause sun damaged skin as well because it does penetrate deeper into the skin.  This type of radiation is believed to be the cause of more skin cancers.

The result of this ultraviolet light exposure is

a) immediate darkening of the skin and

b) production of melanin which leads to the tanning effect a few days later.

Years of excessive ultraviolet light exposure and “tanning” not only increases the risk for a non-melanoma skin cancer, but it also accelerates the development of wrinkled, thin, discoloured looking skin.

Avoiding prolonged direct, intense sunlight combined with an effective sunscreen (SPF greater than 30) can delay skin aging and decrease the risk for developing skin cancer.

Treating photo-damaged skin is individual and unique to each patient as each person experiences aging skin in a different way.  ie. some people develop brown spots, some develop only wrinkles and some develop superficial blood vessels which can make the skin look red.

The most effective and popular method to reverse the signs of skin aging and sun damaged skin is a fractional CO2 laser peel which not only removes damaged skin, but it promotes new collagen formation which leads to tighter, firmer and younger looking skin.

Speak to an experienced and well-trained laser physician who can discuss this and other options in depth.  This is an exciting time in medicine as there are many safe and effective treatments to reverse the signs of aging.

Dr. Craig Crippen MD ABPh DPD

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