Unmasking Photoaging: Why Some get Wrinkled Earlier than the Others
Updated: Jul 16
We invited Dr. Alpana Mohta Ranka, MD, DNB, iFAAD, to shed some light on how sun exposure impacts human skin. She's an accomplished dermatologist with numerous national and international accolades. You can read more about her here. Let's jump right into what she has to say without further ado.
"As a dermatologist, I've witnessed the effects of sun damage on countless faces and bodies. Believe me when I say that the sun can be both a friend and a foe."
In this article, we'll delve into the nitty-gritty of photoaging, explore the early signs, discuss how it leads to faster aging, and, most importantly, reveal how you can protect yourself from the sun's sneaky ways. So grab your hats and shades, and let's embark on this sunny adventure together!
When Does Sun Damage Start to Show?
Ah, the age-old question! The truth is, sun damage can start to rear its head at any age. However, the visible signs typically become more noticeable as we mature. This means that the sun-loving escapades of your youth may come back to haunt you later on. Wrinkles, fine lines, pigmentation irregularities, and uneven skin texture can all be attributed to years of sun exposure.
Skin Conditions Caused by Sun Damage:
Sunburn: We all know the pain and peeling that follows a nasty sunburn. Sunburns can lead to long-term damage and increase your risk of skin cancer. Remember to protect your skin, even on cloudy days. If you want to learn more, read my article on Should you use sunscreen even during rainy season?
Actinic Keratosis: These scaly, rough patches can develop after years of sun exposure. Although they are usually harmless, they should be examined by a dermatologist as they can sometimes turn into skin cancer.
Solar Lentigines (Sunspots): These pesky dark spots on the skin directly result from excessive sun exposure. They can appear on your face, shoulders, arms, or hands, adding years to your appearance.
Premature Wrinkling: The sun's ultraviolet rays break down collagen and elastin fibers, leading to premature wrinkling and sagging skin. Protecting your skin from the sun is crucial in preventing these unwanted signs of aging. Till now, now might have been like, "Meh! I love the sun. I don't care what you say!". So, here's something I believe convinces 99% of the people I am trying to protect. I don't want to frighten you but have you seen the image of the truck driver who became the poster boy for photoaging? I don't own the copyright to that image, but I can share the link to it. Look at the image closely. You'll notice that the right side of the face is so much more wrinkled than the left. This was because that part of the face was exposed to the window while the truck driver was doing his job. Now, if you value the quality of your skin more than how the sun feels, you should definitely practice sun protection. How do I do this, you ask? I have your back. Read on.
10 Ways to Protect Yourself from the Sun
Be a Sunscreen Superhero: Embrace the power of sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Apply it generously and reapply every two hours, especially when outdoors. Don't forget those often overlooked areas like your ears, hands, and the back of your neck. If you want to understand what type of sunscreen you should use based on your skin type, you can read this article of mine: Best Sunscreen for Oily Skin, Dry Skin, and More: Dermatologist Recommended Complete Guide.
Seek Shade like a Sun-Wise Ninja: When the sun is at its strongest, usually between 10 am and 4 pm, try to avoid going out in the sun. Your skin will thank you for it!
Fashionable Sun Gear: Make hats, sunglasses, and protective clothing your new best friends. Not only do they add a touch of style to your look, but they also shield your skin from harmful UV rays.
Don't Be a Solar Sizzler: Tanning beds and sunbathing may sound enticing, but they are a recipe for disaster. Opt for sunless tanning products or bronzers and enjoy a sun-kissed glow without the damaging effects.
Lip Service: Your lips need protection too! Always apply a lip balm with SPF to keep them moisturized and shielded from the sun. Here's my lip balm guide.
Eye Care Essentials: The delicate skin around your eyes is particularly vulnerable to sun damage. Invest in sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays to reduce the risk of eye damage and wrinkles.
Love Your Umbrella: If you're lucky enough to be strolling on a sunny day, take an umbrella for extra shade. Who says you can't enjoy a little rain protection on a sunny day?
Check Your Meds: Some medications can make your skin more sensitive to the sun's rays. Read the labels, and if you notice any warnings about increased sun sensitivity, take extra precautions.
Hydration Nation: Keep your skin hydrated from the inside out by drinking plenty of water. Hydrated skin is more resilient and better able to fight off the signs of aging.
Regular Skin Check-Ups: Schedule annual visits to a dermatologist for a comprehensive skin examination. Early detection and treatment of sun-induced skin conditions are key to maintaining healthy and youthful skin.
To wrap it up
Dear sun-seekers, now armed with the knowledge of photoaging and its sneaky consequences, it's time to take action! Embrace the quirky, fun side of sun protection and remember the wise words of Dr. Alpana Mohta, your friendly neighborhood dermatologist: "SPF! SPF! SPF!" So slip on that wide-brimmed hat, slather on the SPF, and enjoy the sun responsibly. Your future self will thank you for it!
If you enjoyed this article and would like to read more such content on skincare, head over to Dr. Alpana's website. If you want to consult her, you can get an appointment by filling out the form on this page.