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The Sun and Aging of the Skin

As our body ages, the appearance of the skin alter. Guess which areas suffer the most damage and expectedly age faster? Yes,  the ones exposed to the harmful effect of the sun. It can occur at an early age in people who have spent a lot of time outdoors, and those get sunburns quickly, especially those who are light-skinned.

This process is known as photoaging - attributed to a combination of UVB - short-wavelength injury to the epidermis (outside layers of the skin) and UVA - long wavelength to the dermis (middle layers).

Again, the main culprit here is the ultraviolet radiation. The skin's immune system weakens with the continuous and profound effects of oxidation, ionization, and genetic changes of cellular components, including DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). For that reason, aging skin is susceptible to skin cancer.

Our skin loses its elasticity due to scarring from repeated inflammation due to sunburn, acne, and other skin diseases. The outside layers of the skin - the epidermis - become thinner, which is results makes the skin dry up more quickly and cause blisters and tears. The skin becomes weaker than usual and feels drier because it cannot hold water like it used to.

Aging signs? Obviously, fine lines and wrinkles, discoloration and textural changes, that can vary from more subtle to more noticeable.

Prolonged exposure to the sun radiation without adequate protection causes overactivity of tanning cells, called melanocytes. As a result, unattractive sights of pigmentation with brown freckles, solar lentigines, and white marks can appear.

The presence of tangled masses of damaged elastin protein in the dermis leads to yellow thickened bumps (called elastosis or heliosis). Other possible side effects of aging skin include brown warty lesions (seborrhoeic keratoses),  dilated small blood vessels (telangiectases), cherry red spots (angiomas), and bruises (senile purpura).

The aging skin can also experience tender red dry spots or solar keratoses (also known as actinic keratoses), found on the backs of the hands, the temples, bridge of the nose, cheeks, and upper lip.

Photoaging classification by the dermatologists:
Mild (age: 28-35 years): Few wrinkles present, no keratoses;
Moderate (age: 35-50 years): early wrinkling, sallow complexion with early actinic keratoses;
Advanced (age: 50-60 years): more wrinkling, skin discoloration with actinic keratoses; and,
Severe (age: 65-70 years): severe wrinkling, gravitational, and dynamic forces affecting skin, photoaging, actinic keratoses with or without skin cancer.
 
What's the best thing you can do for your skin?

Please protect it from sun damage by avoiding outdoor activities during the middle of the day, especially in the summer. It is necessary, if not obligatory, to apply sunscreens daily and more often when outdoors.

Which cosmetic products should you use to care for aging skin?

There is a wide range of products available on the market, starting from simple moisturizers and sunscreens to retinoid creams and Alpha-hydroxy acids.
You can also try more invasive treatments, like dermabrasion, Botox, chemical peels, and laser resurfacing remove the top layer of damaged skin.

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