How Do I Reverse Sun Damage on My Skin?

By Medically reviewed by Panel Perubatan Hello Doktor

A daily dose of healthy sun exposure can provide you with adequate vitamin D and promote emotional well being. Unfortunately, ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can damage your skin and cause sunburn. Over time, these rays can lead to photoaging; signs of premature ageing due to habitual sun exposure. In fact, 80% of your skin’s ageing is believed to be due to UV exposure.

Some of the manifestations of photoaging include wrinkles, small brown patches, mottled pigmentation, loss of translucency and decreased elasticity. The degree of photoaging usually depends on skin colour, genetic, geographical situation and lifestyle practices. Whilst fair skin population is the most affected by it, populations with darker skin have no apparent wrinkle until the age of 50 and the severity is not as marked. One study even discovered that the onset of wrinkles in Chinese women occurred on average 10 years later than in French women.

Regardless of your skin colour, you may still be susceptible to skin damage under the sun. Although not all the damage due to sun exposure are reversible, some of the problems can be reversed with some over the counter products and dermatological procedures.

Wear sunscreen

Even if the harm is already done and you are suffering from sunburn, you should continue to wear sunscreen. Sunburn occurs through DNA damage in your skin cells. An accumulation of these injuries by times lead to physical changes like wrinkles and skin cancer.

Continue to wear sunscreen to counteract the damage and reapply it at least every 80 minutes. Alternately, you can also keep yourself in the shade altogether. You’ll protect yourself from future UV radiation and give your skin’s enzymes time to repair some of the damaged DNA.

Exfoliate and moisturize

You should gently exfoliate the rough patches from the sunburn with a scrub or loofah. This will remove the top layer of dead skin cells to reveal the soft skin beneath. Then moisturize your skin with lotion. If you’re sunburned, skip petroleum-based products, which trap in heat. You should also keep yourself well hydrated during the day.

Apply topical retinoids

UV rays can break down collagen and elastin, two proteins that keep skin firm and smooth. Retinoids, a class of naturally occurring or synthetic compounds related to vitamin A can boost the amount of collagen in your skin. It is also considered as the mainstay of treatment of patients with mild to moderate photoaging. Your dermatologist can prescribe topical retinoids for you. Retinoids can reduce the appearance of fine lines, improve skin texture, correct tone and elasticity, and slow the progression of photoaging. You can also find a less potent form, retinol, in many antiaging cosmeceutical products.

Try some cosmeceuticals

Cosmeceuticals, a product with a combination of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals properties may also benefit you. Aside from retinol cosmeceutical products, you can try other cosmetic products with bioactive ingredients such as antioxidants. Cica cream, a cosmeceutical product that contains cantella asiatica extract, locally known as pegaga or gotu kola is also becoming more popular due to its rejuvenating properties.

Skin rejuvenating and resurfacing procedure

Skin rejuvenating and resurfacing procedure can help removes damaged cells from the upper layers of your skin. Chemical peels like alpha-hydroxy or salicylic acid cream can be applied by yourself. While more a medium-depth peel requires a clinic visit.

Other treatment options include the use of non-ablative and ablative lasers technologies, dermabrasion, microdermabrasion and microneedling. It’s important to seek professional consultation if you opt for skin rejuvenating and resurfacing treatments. Every patient is unique and sun damage impacts us variably according to our genetic and environmental factors. Hence, treatment methods should be tailored accordingly.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

msBahasa Malaysia

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Review Date: March 6, 2019 | Last Modified: November 29, 2019

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