When Should I See a Specialist About my Sun Damage?
The sun can make you feel good, but the downside is that it can cause skin damage. Sun exposure taken too far can also cause skin cancer. Spots, blotches, and wrinkles over time are signs of the sun’s damaging effects on your skin. Skin darkening in the form of a tan, that many view as a sign of health, is actually your skin trying to protect itself against the sun’s rays.
Too much sun can result in a sunburn, which can have short and long term negative effects. While sunburns usually heal within a few days, they can cause skin problems down the road. A mild sunburn is when your skin turns red, painful, and feels warm. Itching and peeling may occur. If you develop blisters, you have a bad sunburn. If the pain is severe or you develop a fever, see your doctor.
Other types of skin damage from sun exposure that aren’t as obvious
- Actinic keratoses: These rough and scaly skin patches can also appear as raised bumps. They’re commonly found on your face, ears, neck, scalp, arms and hands. Coloring may be red, pink, tan or the same color as your skin. They can appear and disappear, and some are itchy.
- Actinic cheilitis: This is a spot of actinic keratosis located on your lips. Dry, split or a white, scaly spot on your bottom lip should be seen by a doctor.
- Age spots (liver spots): These spots look like big freckles and typically darken as you age. If these spots change texture, develop a raised surface, show more than one color within the spot, suddenly darken, or develop an irregular border, see a doctor.
- Atypical moles: Moles are common, but you need to watch them carefully for changes. If a mole grows larger, has an uneven border or surface, changes color, itches, bleeds, or gets darker, let your doctor know.
- Rosacea: Rosacea develops when you have face reddening with acne-like bumps, which can come and go. One cause can be from too much sun, but there are other causes as well.
- Wrinkle and lines:Many signs of aging are from time in the sun. Sunlight exposure, even from long ago, breaks down your skin’s fibers that kept your skin firm. Sunlight accelerates the formation of wrinkles and can give you saggy and droopy skin that makes you look much older than you really are.
- Poikiloderma of Civatte: Also called sun aging, this condition colors your neck and cheeks a reddish-brown. Burning, itching, and high-sensitivity are also symptoms, so see your doctor.
Treatment Options from Your Dermatologist for Sun Damage
- Prescription creams that are anti-aging and can also help reverse sun damage.
- Microdermabrasion improves the appearance of sun damage by exfoliating the top layer of skin.
- Chemical peels improve the appearance of sun damage by using a chemical solution to remove the outer layer of old skin.
- Laser therapy can rejuvenate skin and diminish wrinkles by stimulating the skin to produce more collagen and elastin.
- Cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the area which then peels away.
- Mohs surgery for skin cancer where one layer of the skin is removed at a time, and examined under a microscope, until all the cancer is gone.
- Cyrosurgery uses liquid nitrogen to freeze and kill a skin lesion without damaging nearby healthy skin.
If you’re experiencing sun damage symptoms, contact Pruett Dermatology. Dr. Darel Pruett is an experienced, board-certified skin doctor and dermatologic surgeon in the Florida Keys who treats a wide range of skin problems. Stop by our office today or call 305.664.8828 for a consultation.