What is Sun Damage (Actinic Damage)?
Sun damage is the result of chronic UVA and UVB exposure. Signs of sun damage include wrinkles, areas of hypo- and hyperpigmentation, visibly dilated blood vessels, solar lentigines (age spots), skin roughness, and thinning of skin in addition to actinic keratoses (pre-skin cancers) and skin cancers. Methods to decrease the risk of skin cancer and to mitigate some of the effects of chronic actinic damage include daily use of a broad spectrum of UVA and UVB sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, the use of sun protective clothing when necessary, and in general, to lessen any unnecessary sun exposure.
Screening by a dermatologist is extremely important in identifying skin cancers and pre-skin cancers. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential, since skin cancer is highly treatable when diagnosed at an early stage. Patients should be seen by a dermatologist regularly for full-body skin checks and immediately upon noticing suspicious lesions. Treatments for the cosmetic aspects of sun damage can be accomplished with topical bleaching creams, retinoids, moisturizers and chemical peels. Photorejuvenation with the Cynosure/Palomar Icon Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) system, in particular, has been shown to significantly reduce the signs of sun damage.