There are many reasons why the skin gradually ages, including the natural aging process where the skin becomes thin and more susceptible to gravity and genetics. Aging skin is unavoidable. However, there are extrinsic reasons why the skin ages, and the ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun account for 80 percent of extrinsic skin aging according to studies reported in the Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigatory Dermatology medical journal.
It is well documented that UV exposure is a threat to healthy skin. According to the World Health Organization, it is a known carcinogenic to humans. This means it has been scientifically proven that skin cancer may develop after the aging skin has been exposed to the sun.
Ultraviolet radiation is found in sunlight and classified as UVA and UVB. Each of these contributes to premature aging in the skin and can be avoided by the use of protective clothing, hats and sunscreen. The first sign that the skin has been affected is sunburned or even tanned skin. However, there is also damage that cannot be seen. The DNA in the skin cells is also damaged, so the cells no longer have their protective function.
Photo aging is the medical term for the damage the sun does to skin. If your aging skin is regularly exposed to sunlight, and you do not use necessary protection, your skin will lose the ability to repair itself. The damage starts in children and accumulates over time. The older you get, the more susceptible to sun damage your skin is. Not only is the DNA affected, but the sun also breaks down collagen, which is an important connective tissue in the skin, and impairs the skin from producing new collagen. Without the connective tissue, the skin becomes weak and inflexible, so gravity has a greater impact and the skin ages prematurely very quickly.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, skin cells have good memory. This means every time it is exposed to the sun, changes occur and they are accumulative. Changes that are caused by exposure to the sun are preventable and not part of the natural aging process. Skin that has not been exposed to UV radiation ages differently than skin that has been regularly exposed.
Some, but not all, of the results of sun exposure are:
• Sunspots, which are brown spots on the hands, arms, shoulders, chest and back
• Wrinkled and loose skin
• Dry, leathery skin
• Red blood vessels appearing close to the surface of the skin
• Yellowish discoloration of the skin
• Actinic keratosis or rough reddish patches
• Easy bruising
Damage from the sun can happen at any time the skin is exposed. It is not limited to playing at the beach or lying by the pool. Car windows will not protect you from UVA radiation and cloudy skies will also not protect you.
If you want to avoid aging skin as the result of sun exposure, there are several precautions you can take. Visit Dr. Yeoman’s Dermatology Office to learn about how you can avoid looking older than you actually are. We have locations in Poplar Bluff and Paragould. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.