Skin Sun Damage

Written by Serena Berger
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The sun is a gigantic source of ultraviolet rays, which are extremely dangerous to us. These rays have the ability to mutate our DNA--which means that all of a sudden your body can start getting messages to produce different sorts of cells (including skin cells), some of which can be cancerous. If any marks emerge which proceed to change shape or color, you must see a doctor to find out if you have a melanoma. You should also be sensitive to any changes in birthmarks or moles that you've always had--sun damage can turn these to cancer, too.

While cancer is the greatest cause for concern, there are many other forms of sun damage that you want to avoid. Sun damaged skin is much more susceptible to wrinkles than normal skin because sun exposure damages collagen and elastin. Once you lose these structural proteins, they cannot be replaced or grow back and wrinkles inevitably result. You can combat the appearance of small wrinkles with very good moisturizers or by temporarily tightening the skin, but they cannot be reversed.

You can also suffer many non-cancerous discolorations of the skin as a result of sun damage. An over-activity of pigment producing cells can result in brown, yellow, red, and white splotches which make you feel bad about your appearance. You may also end up with dilated blood vessels, blackheads, whiteheads, and extreme dryness.

Treating Sun Damaged Skin

Dermatologists and over-the-counter cosmetic and medical products can all have some benefits if you want to combat the non-cancerous results of sun damage. Alpha hydroxyl acids have been shown to increase the thickness of skin that has been damaged by the sun. This can help prevent blisters, tears, scratches, and injuries. Retin-A is the most successful prescription product, and it boasts many benefits, including the reversal of some sun spots, fine lines and wrinkles. Chemical peels and dermabrasion are also very successful treatments for slightly-to-moderately sun damaged skin. Cosmetic companies are developing products which are essentially home versions of these procedures, and they are getting more effective by leaps and bounds.

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