Photoaging refers to the damage that is done to the skin from prolonged exposure over a person's lifetime to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Many of the same changes in the skin that occur as we get older are greatly accelerated by sun exposure. Those who have fair skin, have difficulty tanning and burn easily are at greater risk for photoaging. Smoking also speeds up the photoaging process. Examples of skin changes from photoaging include:
Wrinkles, fine or deep due to the breaking down of elastic tissue. Called “elastosis”
Broken or dialated capillaries called “telangiectasis”
Decreased number of Langerhan’s Cells which are found the layer between the epidermis and dermis where the immunologic responses of the skin are controlled.
Areas of Actinic Keratosis which are small, red, rough, sometimes scaly spots on the skin that have been chronically exposed to the sun. Treating these areas quickly is important since they are precancerous.
Wear a sunscreen daily, regardless of the weather or season, containing UV absorbing ingredients such as cinnimates, salicylates and benzophenones and UV reflecting ingredients like titanium and zinc oxide. Even on a cloudy day 80 percent of the sun’s rays reach the ground.
Limit sun exposure between the hours of 10am and 4pm when UV radiation is at its peak.
Apply sun protection products on all exposed areas of the skin at least 20 minutes before exposure.
Apply 1oz of sunscreen (approximately the amount in a shot glass) to all exposed areas.
Reapply often after swimming or sweating to keep the sun protection at its maximum effectiveness.
Wear tightly woven fabrics made from polyester or nylon for maximum protection. Tightly woven cotton blends, more comfortable in the heat, are almost as effective.
Although antioxidants like Vitamins E and Vitamin C do not absorb or reflect UV radiation, they enhance the ability of the skin cells to repair the damage done by UV radiation.
Topical retinoids are Vitamin A derivatives that can improve the look of sun damaged and aged skin. Most effective for skin rejuvenation are the prescription strength retinoids, for example Tretinoin, known best as the brand name, Retin-A. Retinoids speed the exfoliation process on the skin by 5-6 times. Not only do retinoids repair DNA damage in epidermal cells and repair deeper dermal collagen, they shrink oil glands, tighten pores, and diminish the look of scars and tighten skin.
Glycolic Acid and Alpha Hydroxy Acid products increase the cell turnover and exfoliation which result in a smoother, healthier looking skin tone and texture.
Hydroquinone is an organic compound used in bleaching and lightening creams that reduce the melanin production in the skin. It is effective at lightening the effects of sun exposure on the skin like melasma and solar lentignes (brown spots).
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