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Sun-Related Skin Damage: Less-Common Signs and Prevention Methods

Sun Rise — New Bern, NC — East Carolina Dermatology and Skin Surgery, PLLC

Your skin could have sun damage even if you do not have a sunburn. Sun damage can manifest in various ways, and severe sun damage can lead the way to abnormal cells and cancer. All skin types and colors can suffer damage, so no one is immune.

Learn more about how the sun’s ultraviolet light causes sun damage and what you can do to lessen its impact.

Ways the Sun Damages Skin

While suntans and burns are the most common types of sun damage, they are not the only ones. Discover some ways sun damage shows up on the skin other than a tan or burn.

Wrinkles or Crepey Skin

The sun ages the skin, especially if you do not protect it. People who have a lot of unprotected sun exposure tend to have more wrinkles than people who always protect their skin.

Dark or Light Spots

Parts of the body with the most sun exposure may develop dark or abnormally light spots on the skin over time.

Solar Keratosis

Solar keratosis is the name for small, raised pale bumps on sun-damaged skin. They may seem scaly and flaky.

Actinic Cheilitis

This precancerous condition is also known as farmer’s lip. It is usually a scaly or discolored patch on your lower lip. Actinic Cheilitis can lead to carcinoma. See your doctor as soon as possible if you suspect you have this condition.

Increased Freckles and Moles

Freckles, in general, are not a serious issue if they are a normal part of your skin tone. However, increased moles can be a potential risk of melanoma.

Carcinomas and Melanoma

Sun damage can directly lead to carcinomas and melanoma, types of skin cancer. These cancers often appear as raised bumps or irregular-shaped moles.

Ways to Prevent Sun Damage to Your Skin

Once you have sun damage, you cannot reverse it without treatment and skin exfoliation. Dermatologists have several methods to remove layers of sun-damaged skin and early cancer cells. However, you can prevent further damage with a variety of methods. Below is a list of examples.

Wear Sunscreen

Sunscreen is the gold standard to prevent sun damage. It’s not just for sunburn prevention. Make sure you wear at least an SPF 30 sunscreen or higher. You may need to shop around if you have sensitive skin or allergies.

Cover Skin

If you can’t or don’t want to wear sunscreen for various reasons, then cover up your skin. If you worry about being too warm, you can find sun-protective clothing that is highly breathable. Wear a sun hat to protect your face as well. Sunglasses with UV protection can protect your eyes.

Avoid Peak Sun Hours

Peak sun times are often around midday. Avoid sun exposure at those times to reduce sun damage to your skin.

Seek Medical Attention if Necessary

Seek medical attention any time you notice something unusual with your skin. You may also want to see a doctor if you have a severe sunburn, especially with blisters, bleeding, or swollen skin. These can be emergencies and need more than just topical treatment.

If you already suffer from sun-related skin damage, keep an especially close eye on your skin. Look for any abnormal growths or color changes. Skin cancer is highly treatable if caught early.

If you have concerns about sun damage, contact us at East Carolina Dermatology and Skin Surgery, PLLC. We can examine your skin for a proper medical diagnosis and treatment. Call us and set up an appointment. We look forward to speaking with you and helping you understand the best ways you can take care of your skin.

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