About 3.3 million Americans get skin cancer every year—some in multiple places on their body. For many of those people, the first actions they take to protect their skin are after this diagnosis.
At that point, it may be too late depending on the stage of their cancer (while it is still always valuable to protect your skin no matter if you have before or not).
Even if the sun damage doesn’t result in skin cancer, it can still have unwanted consequences such as age spots and extra wrinkles.
That said, there are many ways to both prevent and repair sun damage. Here to tell us exactly how is Dr. Cynthia Lavery Henry from Apex Dermatology in Westlake, OH.
Why is sun damage dangerous?
Sun damage can lead to skin cancer, including Melanoma, the deadliest form.
Exposure to UV rays from the sun itself or from indoor tanning is directly correlated with an increase in skin cancer risk.
Does sun damage cause premature aging?
In addition to being dangerous, sun damage also causes premature aging. Signs of sun damage include dark spots, and an acceleration in fine lines and wrinkles.
What parts of the body are most commonly affected by sun damage?
Sun damage can happen on any exposed skin.
“The most common areas for sun damage are the ones most often exposed including: face, lips, ears, scalp, and arms.”
This is why when you go out in the sun, it’s important to take extra precaution around these areas with sunscreen and sun protective clothing.
How can you prevent sun damage?
“A broad-spectrum sunscreen 30 SPF or higher should be worn every day! If you are out in the sun, re-application every 2 hours and a sunscreen that is water resistant is a must. It’s also important to use enough sunscreen and apply evenly. Used too sparingly won’t give you enough protection.”
Sun-protective clothing and hats with UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) ratings are even better than sunscreen alone. So, in addition to sunscreen, practice sun safety by seeking shade, wearing a hat, and covering up with sun protective clothing.
It’s also crucial to make regular trips to a board-certified dermatologist. A full body skin exam is recommended once every year, and if you notice any new or changing spots on your skin, you should schedule an appointment right away. Awareness and early detection are key to managing skin cancer.
At Apex, we have our SPOTcheck program, which guarantees suspicious lesions are checked within 24 hours.
Are there any products to help reverse sun damage?
A product regimen can help prevent and correct sun damage. I recommend patients use a medical grade Vitamin C and sunscreen every morning, and a retinol in the evening.
If patients are suffering from melasma, a hormonal discoloration worsened by sun exposure, we also have lightening products and procedures that can help.
Our Aesthetic Nurses can also help patients with sun damage with Microneedling, Diamond Glow facials and Chemical Peels.
What is the best treatment for sun damage?
The most powerful tool to reverse signs of sun damage is the Fraxel laser. Fraxel treats: wrinkles, age spots/sun spots, melasma. About 2-3 months after Fraxel treatment, patients notice a reduction in those skin issues, and an improvement in skin tone, texture and elasticity. Many patients maximize the benefits by repeating the procedure several times.
Be sun smart! Wear sunscreen every day and see a dermatologist regularly to keep your skin youthful, healthy, and free of sun damage.
Dr. Henry is a board-certified dermatologist practicing at the Apex Dermatology Westlake office. Dr. Henry grew up in Medina, OH. From an early age she was influenced by her grandmother, an anesthesiologist who was one of only 4 women in medical school at her time. Dr. Henry observed how important and exciting her grandmother’s interaction with patients was, and the meaningful impact she had on their lives and knew that she would like to impact her community similarly.
After completing undergraduate and masters degrees from Boston University, Dr. Henry determined that her interests led her to a more hands-on application approach to health care. Early on during medical school, she fell in love with dermatology and was determined to go that route. She loves the direct patient care that includes both medical and procedural treatments and offers a diverse patient variety infants through adults.
During her residency in the Greater Detroit area, she saw a variety of cases from cosmetics to general dermatology, and everything in between, and became well practiced in treatments such as sclerotherapy for veins.