What you need to know about photodamage

Despite its many useful and important functions, skin has very little ability to shield against sun’s harmful ultraviolet and infrared radiation. As well, many medications and topical products can cause photosensitivity in the skin, thereby increasing its vulnerability. Photodamage to skin caused by unprotected and/or repeated sun exposure can result in chronic deterioration, various signs of premature aging, and carcinogenesis (the initiation of cancer formation)—as well as impair its ability to heal previous damage.

Usually, photodamage is not immediately detectable. It accumulates stealthily over a lifetime, building upon itself until it becomes visible or apparent.

There is no such thing as a ‘healthy’ tan

A suntan (browned skin) obtained through sun exposure means damaged skin—the opposite of ‘healthy.’ A sunburn indicates more severe damage. Both are detrimental to your skin’s health, and can lead to premature aging and the formation of skin cancer.

Natural aging process, or sun damage?

When we look in the mirror, what we think of as the ‘natural aging process’ can often be attributed to photodamage. Harmful sun exposure can account for a majority of the visible signs of aging, such as wrinkles, sunspots, roughness, visible blood vessels, loss of elasticity and thinning skin.

What can you do to protect your skin?

  • The more sun protection you provide for your skin, the more you reduce potential photodamage and help protect against skin cancer and signs of aging.
  • Properly apply a high-quality, mineral-based sunscreen every morning, regardless of weather or time of year.
  • Seek shade and wear physical barriers such as hats, sleeves, t-shirts and sunglasses.
  • Do not use indoor tanning beds.
  • Minimize sun exposure between the hours of 10am and 4pm when UV rays are the strongest.