Understand the Hidden Toll of Sun Damage and How You Can Stay Healthy

Typically, when we think of sun damage, skin cancer is what comes to mind when in fact there are many different types of sun exposure that affect the skin.

Sun damage is usually associated with “laying out” all day in the sun to achieve a beautiful bronze tan. Unfortunately, tanning is the only time a majority of us in Nashville ever touches a bottle of sunscreen when we should be applying sunscreen daily. Yes, every season including winter! If the sun is out you should have your sunscreen on.

We are exposed to UVA/UVB rays in ways most of us probably never think about, such as driving in your car. The exposure to UVA/UVB rays from the sun while driving is significant and most of us have never even given it a thought. If you do not wear sunscreen daily, chances are the left side of your face, which is considered your “driving side,” has more damage than your right side.

We see this first hand at Advanced Aesthetics Medical Spa. Sometimes it is very obvious, as the left side of a patient’s face is aged more and has more lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation (dark spots) than the right side.

The Damage of UVA and UVB Rays

Sun damage can show up in many different forms, some can be of no concern and others can be a serious condition. Some forms of damage are uneven pigmentation, damage to darker skin, solar lentigines, lentigos, solar elastosis, melasma, poikiloderma, lentigo maligna and actinic keratoses. Of these forms of sun exposure, actinic keratoses and lentigo maligna could potentially be a concern as these types of sun damage, if left untreated, may progress to skin cancer. Annual skin checks with your dermatologist are very important to determine if you have any forms of sun exposure that are a serious concern.

Most forms of sun damage can be avoided by wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily with an SPF of 30 or greater and protecting yourself in other ways, such as wearing sunglasses, hats, and protective clothing.

What to Look for in a Daily Sunscreen

It is always important to look for a broad spectrum sunscreen, meaning it protects against UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays will subtly damage the skin and the effects will typically not show for many years. UVA rays are what cause the skin to loose laxity and look “leathery” many years down the road. Most people are under the impression that we cannot feel the effects of the sun through windows. This is false! UVA rays can damage the skin by penetrating through windows. This is why most people age faster on the left side of the face. Effects of UVB rays are much more obvious, as these are the sun rays that cause the skin to burn. Reapplying your sunscreen every two hours will help prevent uncomfortable irritated skin caused by UVB rays.

As you can see, it is very important to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater. Always remember that even though you don’t notice the effects of UVA rays immediately, they are just as dangerous as UVB.

Find Effective Treatment for Sun Exposure

If you are curious about the amount of sun exposure you might have, the dermatology team at Advanced Aesthetics at Gold Skin Care Center in Nashville have a great skin analysis device called Emage that will measure the amount of UVA/UVB sun damage you have, as well as fine lines and wrinkles. We are always happy to help determine what treatment is best to improve your skin and help to correct sun damage! Contact us today by calling (615) 645-2314 to learn more.

Next, read about Which Body Contouring Treatment is Right for You?