Florida didn’t earn its nickname the “Sunshine State” for no reason. Although it does see its fair share of stormy weather, the amount of sunshine the state gets per year is higher than the average for many other states in the U.S.
While a sunny day can be warm and comforting, it also increases a person’s risks for damage from the sun’s rays. Whether you live in Florida or a part of the country that has more cloud cover, it’s important to be aware of the damage the sun can do and what you can do to protect your skin.
Before discussing the damage the sun can cause, it’s worth noting that it does play an important part when it comes to making sure your system has enough vitamin D. Your skin needs sunlight to produce the vitamin D, which plays a part in the development of strong and healthy bones.
But, while the sun can be beneficial, it also produces ultraviolet light rays that harm your skin in two ways. UVA rays are able to seep deep into the skin, to the dermis. They play a part in the production of free radicals and in the destruction of collagen, a protein your skin needs to maintain its structure.
UVA rays also encourage the production of pigment, or melanin, which your skin uses to try to protect itself from those rays. The extra pigment can lead to a tan or to uneven patches of darker skin. UVB rays, which are shorter than UVA rays, don’t penetrate the skin as deeply, but instead cause burning on the outer layer.
The more sun exposure a person has, the greater the damage, as it is cumulative. Eventually, the UV rays will begin to damage the DNA of the skin, which can lead to the development of skin cancers.
Although many people experience the greatest amount of sun damage before they reach adulthood, there are a few ways to reduce the damage or even to undo it as you get older. Having a clear idea of how much your skin is damaged is a good place to start.
The Visia Skin Complexion Analysis tool allows a surgeon to examine your skin closely and evaluate the amount of sun damage it has. The tool also allows a surgeon to determine the extent of other types of damage. Once you have an idea of the extent of the damage, you and your surgeon can discuss the best way to deal with it.
Laser treatments often offer an effective solution for sun-damaged skin. There are a number of different types of laser treatment available, from laser skin resurfacing to intense pulsed light. The goal of such treatments is to reduce dark spots and pigmentation changes created by the sun’s rays and to help smooth lines and give the skin a more refreshed appearance.
If sun exposure has led to the development of skin cancer, removing the cancer is usually the first place to start. One method that is commonly used to remove cancers on the face is Mohssurgery. The procedure involves removing the tumor and a thin layer of skin, then analyzing the skin to see if it is cancer-free. In some cases, the surgeon will decide to remove another layer of skin, if not all of the cancer was removed the first time. The benefit of Mohs surgery compared to other methods of removal is that it leaves more of the healthy skin intact, reducing the size of the scar.
Preventing More Damage
Laser treatments or Mohs surgery to remove skin cancer can give you a bit of a clean slate when it comes to sun damage. It’s important to keep that slate as clean as possible going forward, to keep your skin looking youthful or to reduce your risk for additional tumors. One of the best ways to prevent further damage from the sun is to avoid excess sun exposure.
When you do go outdoors, even on a cloudy day, make sure you protect your skin from the sun’s rays. A sunscreen that contains an SPF of at least 30 and that blocks both UVA and UVB rays is ideal. For best results, reapply the sunscreen every two hours or so.
If you are concerned about the effects of the sun on your skin, speaking with a board certified, trained facial plastic surgeon can help you determine what your treatment options are and the how you can protect your skin in the future. Dr. Ross Clevens is Central Florida’s only practicing double board certified facial plastic surgeon. He can discuss the impact of sun exposure with you and help you decide how to proceed. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Clevens, call (321) 727-3223 today.