Ultraviolet radiation emitted from the sun causes significant damage to our skin cells leading to unwanted changes. The DNA of skin cells become damaged, slowing renewal of the skin and can cause problematic health issues such as skin cancer as well as premature signs of ageing. Premature signs of ageing include changes such as fine lines, wrinkles, uneven pigmentation, dull skin and unwanted thickening of the skin called ‘solar elastosis’.
What Are The Different Skin Conditions Caused By Sun Damage?
- Chronic and prolonged exposure to the sun can cause the following skin problems.
- Skin cancer and precancerous lesions called solar keratoses
- Solar Elastosis
- Solar Lentigines
- Fine and coarse wrinkles
- Mottled pigmentation and melasma
- Telangiectasias or broken capillaries
- Benign tumours
What Are The Consequences of Sun Damage?
- Repeated and unprotected sun exposure can make individuals susceptible to various forms of skin cancer such as BCC, SCC and melanoma.
- For the cosmetically conscious, the rays from the sun can destroy the elastin and collagen present in your skin. Elastin is a support fibre that helps skin to bounce back whereas collagen is a protein that helps retain the firmness of your skin. The degradation of collagen and elastin can leave skin looking and feeling dry, dull, wrinkled and flaky over time.
What Are The Most Common Sun-induced Skin Changes?
While sun damage causes several serious skin problems such as skin cancer, many individuals develop solar keratoses and solar elastosis from long-term sun exposure.
Solar elastosis, also known as actinic elastosis and elastosis senilis, is a skin disorder in which the skin appears yellow and thick as a consequence of sun damage. It is caused by the accumulation of elastic tissue present in the dermis of the skin, which occurs due to prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation emitted by the sun over many years. This skin change is observed very frequently by dermatologists in many of their patients and is diagnosed by its appearance. Sun protection is essential to avoid further sun-damage. Active treatments available to improve the appearance of sun-damaged skin include;
- Prescription strength retinoid creams
- Some antioxidant creams may provide benefit
- Fractionated ablative and non-ablative lasers (Such as CO2 laser resurfacing)
- Neurotoxin injections can help improve the wrinkles worsened by sun-damage
- Dermal fillers
Solar keratosis, also known as actinic keratosis, is considered a precancerous skin lesion. It is caused due to the damage of DNA by ultraviolet radiation emitted by the sun. Whilst only one or two lesions can be present in some individuals, in others with an extensive history of sun-damage, numerous lesions may be present which is referred to as field actinic damage or field cancerisation. Sun-protection is essential to stop such lesions occurring. Treatments available for solar keratoses include;
- Cryotherapy using liquid nitrogen
- Medicated creams
- Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)
Specialist Skin Services
As an all-round specialist dermatology clinic, we work with our patients to achieve their goals and always maintain professional standards.