Solar radiation is literally the only way we have life on Earth, traveling 149 million km (93 million miles) to reach us in about 8.5 minutes and making up the visible light we see all around us. The solar energy we get from the sun is responsible for photosynthesis in plants, the natural processes that create our atmosphere, and healing and lighting the surface of our planet.
One of the forms of radiation our sun emits is ultraviolet (UV) rays, which provide our skin with vitamin D and can also lead to different levels of damage to that very organ if we’re not careful. There are ways to manage sun-damaged skin, and to find out more, let’s explore the effects of UV rays on your skin, the complications of that damage, and how we can treat it.
If you live in the Lake Oswego, Oregon, area and you’re struggling with the effects of sun-damaged skin, our Laser and Aesthetic team at Lake Grove ENT can help.
The effects of the UV light on your skin
Ultraviolet light is just one of the electromagnetic spectrum of energy that comes from the sun and is situated just beyond the visible spectrum. It emits from the sun in different wavelengths measured in nanometers (nm):
- UVC: between 100 and 290 nm and is mostly absorbed by the ozone layer
- UVB: between 290 and 320 nm and causes most sunburns
- UVA: between 320 and 400 nm and causes most skin damage
Both UVB and UVA damage skin, but UVB’s wavelength doesn’t penetrate as deeply into skin or on surfaces as the UVA. Exposure to these wavelengths accounts for approximately 90% of symptoms in sun-damaged skin.
Complications of sun damage
There is a wide range of ways UV light can damage skin depending on the wavelength you’re exposed to, leading:
- Immune system damage: your skin makes up part of the way your body fights disease and infection, and excess sunlight can damage your immune response
- Collagen breakdown: collagen is a vital protein in the structure of your skin, and UV overexposure breaks it down, leading to signs of premature aging like wrinkles
- Solar elastosis: the thickening and thinning of the skin that also causes coarse wrinkling, yellowing, and spider veins in the face
- Skin cancer: melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma are the forms of cancer that can damage the skin from overexposure
- Skin discoloration: damage to pigment-producing cells called melanocytes leads to freckles, age spots, moles, and other changes in skin color
Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers, with melanoma being the most dangerous of the three types. Other conditions that UV overexposure can cause include actinic keratoses, seborrheic keratoses, and photoaging.
Treatments to manage it
Here are our options for treating sun-damaged skin:
Treatments like Clear+Brilliant, fractional non-ablative lasers (ICONTM 1540 Laser Resurfacing), ultherapy, and intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy can reduce wrinkles, manage skin discoloration, and remodel sagging skin.
Medicated topical creams can help to apply help directly to skin to protect skin in the form of sunscreens, Colorescience®, Epionce®, NeoCutisNeoCutis, glycolic acid, retinoids, hydroquinone, and vitamin C serum. These can help with photoaging, stimulate collagen, treat fine lines and wrinkles, and reduce other forms of UV damage.
This is the blanket term for dermal fillers (Juvederm® products like Vollure®, Volbella®, and Voluma®) and Botox®, which mainly target filling sagging skin and reducing wrinkles that can be caused by UV overexposure.
Sun damage can be dangerous for the skin, but it can be managed, and we can help. Make an appointment with the team at Lake Grove ENT today to get started on a treatment that works for you.