Blame it on the Sunshine: The Truth About Photoageing, Extrinsic Ageing, and Solar Radiation

Our skin is being constantly bombarded by external and internal factors including solar radiation, environmental pollutants, physical and psychological stress, alcohol intake, poor nutrition, overeating and chemical aggravants.

And while wrinkles, fine lines, loss of elasticity, and pigmentation are inevitable skin woes that appear as we age, the sun is to blame for photoageing. 

Photoageing, also called extrinsic ageing, is premature skin ageing resulting from prolonged and repeated exposure to solar radiation.  Responsible for 90% of visible changes to the skin, photoageing is a direct result of cumulative sun damage.

Effects of photoageing 

  • Uneven Skin
  • Sun Spots
  • Freckles
  • Melasma 
  • Vitiligo
  • Lentigo
  • Chronic teardrop idiopathic hypomelanosis
  • Tumours, including basal-cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma
  • Dehydrated skin
  • Thin skin
  • Deep Wrinkles

Shedding Light on Skin

Skin is composed of three layers: the epidermis, or outermost layer; the dermis, or middle layer; and the subcutis, or bottom most layer. The dermis contains collagen, elastin and other fibres that support the skin’s structure. It is these elements that give skin its smooth and youthful appearance.

The UVR (ultraviolet radiation) that affects the skin is composed of two different types of waves, UVA and UVB. When UV rays hit the skin, they damage its DNA, and cells in the dermis scramble to produce melanin in the epidermis to prevent further damage. Though we all love the healthy look of a bronzed glow, the process that gives you a tan  is really just your skin naturally shielding itself from solar radiation.

UVB rays are shorter than UVA rays, and are the main culprit behind sunburn. The UVA rays, with their longer wavelength, penetrate deep into the dermis, where they damage the collagen fibres. These are the rays responsible for much of the damage we associate with photoaging.

As a result of this damage, increased production of abnormal elastin occurs and the unusually high amounts of elastin result in the production of enzymes called metalloproteinases. These enzymes, which rebuild damaged collagen, often malfunction and degrade the collagen, resulting in incorrectly rebuilt skin. As this process is repeated with daily UVA exposure, year-after-year, the incorrectly rebuilt skin forms wrinkles and leathery skin.

Damaged skin also loses its ability to contract after stretching. This can be particularly apparent after pregnancy or weight loss. Skin that has been stretched due to weight gain does not have the elasticity it needs to snap back into shape, resulting in loose skin and stretch marks.

The clinical signs of acute UV exposure include sunburn, a simple dermatitis that is manifested by erythema and oedema (first-degree sunburn) or erythema and the formation of blisters (second degree burn). Third-degree sunburn, though rare, is seen in infants. Pigmentation (tan) has two types – instant and delayed. A few minutes after insolation an immediate skin darkening occurs that is associated with the photooxidation of the already synthesised melanin and its rapid redistribution into the epidermal cells.

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Delayed pigmentation happens after 48-72 hours and is associated with active synthesis of melanin.  

There are 500 times more UVA rays in sunlight than UVB rays, so just because you don’t burn, it doesn’t mean damage isn’t taking place. To prevent or slow down photoaging, using daily sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays (known as broad-spectrum sun protection) with an SPF of at least 30 is essential.

How to protect your skin from UVR

Light is around us at all times, making sun damage a year-round concern for healthy skin. Some can’t be helped (it’s tough to fight Father Time), but photoageing accelerates the process. 

Preventive measures 

  1. Always wear sunscreen.
  2. Choose a sunscreen product with an SPF 30 or greater.  
  3. Wear a hat and/or protective clothing.
  4. Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. 
  5. Oral or topical antioxidants.

The simplest and most obvious strategy to reduce the risk of sun UVR damage is to avoid the sun altogether and to wear sunscreen. 

But, sadly, even if you follow all of this advice, unfortunately,  some skin concerns can’t be prevented completely. Factors like pollution, genetics, and the passage of time will cause skin changes no matter how hard you try.

And folks in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, who grew up during a time when kids just played in the sunshine all summer, every summer, with no sunscreen, remember a time when it was normal to burn and peel, burn and peel (rinse, repeat.)  Some went so far as to use baby oil and iodine, use sun reflectors, layed on silver rafts, and used sun lamps. All of that repeat exposure and constant burning has consequences. 

But the good news is, Specialist Skin Solutions can help. Not only will our experts explain the causes and symptoms correlated to photoaging, but we offer several effective treatment options to help keep you out of the anti-ageing aisle just a little bit longer.

Whether you’re in your 20s, 30s, or one of the baby boomers who baked in the sun for decades, there’s a treatment plan for you.

Treatment options include:

  • Dermal Therapy 
  • Deep Sea Peel 
  • Chemical Peels 
  • Medical-grade skincare products

While we can’t turn back the hands of time, we can stop the damage from getting worse and reverse the damage that already exists with effective treatment plans like those offered at Specialist Skin Solutions.

A cosmetic clinic, specialising  in non-surgical aesthetic procedures, laser treatments, and skin therapies, the team at Specialist Skin Solutions provides expert advice with  individualised  treatments that address specific skin concerns.

With a commitment to providing friendly, easy-to-understand professional advice and setting realistic expectations,  the team at Specialist Skin Solutions combines research, knowledge, and experience with evidence-based treatments and products.

Specialist Skin Solutions knows no two faces are alike, which is why we tailor our treatment plans to each client’s needs, budget, and preferences.

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