Skin Damage: What the Sun Can Do!

January 28, 2010

Over years of exposure to the skin, the sun can have an effect on the skin that can cause premature aging, skin cancer as well as other skin changes. Prolonged exposure to the sun is linked to many skin changes that were commonly believed to be due to aging, like easy bruising.


Extended UV exposure (from sunbathing or tanning) can cause skin texture changes like thick skin in course wrinkles (cutis rhomboidalis nuchae) or thinning of the skin causing fine wrinkles, easy bruising and even skin tearing. Blood vessel changes lead to bruising in sun-exposed areas with only minor trauma. But the sun also can create the appearance of tiny blood vessels (telangioctasias) in the skin, especially on the face.

Another noticeable sun-induced change in your skin is color changes. Specifically, the skin will produce brown spots (solar lentigos). This condition is sometimes referred to as freckles and those with light-skin are more prone to this. However, large freckles (sometimes referred to as liver spots) can be found on the back of hands, chest, to developing melanoma.

Red, scaly lesions, especially on the face, ears, and back of the shoulders, arms and upper back. Small white spots (guttate hypomelanosis) on the legs, back of hands and arms are also caused by UV exposure along with red areas (poikiloderma of Civatte) on the side of the neck.

Moles are another condition that is usually seen in areas of the skin exposed to the sun. Although it is normal to see develop new moles from childhood through young adulthood, the sun stimulates their formation. In most cases, moles are normal. However, atypical moles, which develop in areas not exposed to the sun, are larger and more irregular than a normal mole. These serve as an indicator that these moles may be prone hand, are a pre-cancerous skin change called actinic keratoses. This skin change can also appear on the lips (usually the lower lip) and is called actinic cheilitis. Actinic keratoses is considered premalignant because 1 in 100 cases per year will develop into squamous cell carcinoma, which is another type of skin cancer.

Because these skin conditions are all caused by exposure to the sun and its dangerous UV rays, it’s essential that every part of your body is protected against skin damage. Along with effective SPF sunscreen, it’s important that your lips are protected as well. There are several lip treatments with SPF that work very well in preventing damage from the sun. Hats and UV protection umbrellas are extremely effective in blocking dangerous UV rays and preventing skin damage, skin cancer, and melanoma.

More information on different types of UV protection umbrellas can be found at

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