Sun damage or photoaging are terms used by dermatologists to describe visible skin changes caused by long-term ultraviolet light exposure. Ultraviolet light can come from the sun, tanning lamps, or tanning beds. It is known that exposure to ultraviolet light in any of these forms can lead to development of skin cancers and suppression of the immune system. Non-cancerous changes induced by exposure include thickened, discolored, leathery textured skin appearance. The sun is responsible for many signs of premature aging and wrinkles. The best defense against photoaging of the skin is sun avoidance and sunscreen use 30 minutes before planned exposure. Use sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher and reapply every couple of hours. In addition, wear protective clothing, UV protective sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat to minimize exposure when outdoors. Routine skin self-examinations also are recommended for early detection of skin cancer and pre-cancerous conditions.
In this era when a youthful appearance is highly sought after, dermatologic medical and aesthetic advances strive to correct sun damage and reverse the signs of aging. This field is a busy area for research and development, with many therapies and devices in the pipeline.
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