04 Mar Is Tanning from Your Teens & Twenties Back to Haunt You?
Sun damage reveals itself in many ways, and a lot of the time it can take years or even decades to show up. RefinedMD offers a suite of services to reverse the signs of sun damage for your esthetic concerns and keeps you on top of signs of skin cancer with yearly “skin checks” from one of our premier dermatologists like Dr. Lindsey Yeh. The reality is that sun damage shows up in many ways—some right away and some seemingly a lifetime later.
The first sign of sun damage is a sunburn. This is a clear signal that your skin is being damaged by UV rays and is fighting to protect itself. Studies have shown that if you’ve had at least five sunburns in your lifetime, you have a much higher risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest of all skin cancers. There are many types of skin cancers, and all together, they make up the most common type of cancer in the country and around the world. However, skin cancer is also 100 percent preventable, and it’s never too late to start taking your sun protection seriously.
Subtler Signs of Sun Damage
Following sun exposure, whether it resulted in sunburn or not, some people tan. Fortunately, idealizing tanned skin is no longer as trendy as it was a few years ago, and we are certainly big fans of spray-on tans for those who really love a bronzed look. However, it’s important to bear in mind that a tan should not be a goal. A tan is really just your body’s defense mechanism. It’s producing more melanin (color) to help safeguard your skin from UV damage—but unfortunately, by the time a tan shows up, the damage has been done.
Sunburns and suntans are the first two signs of sun damage, and both occur shortly after UV exposure. Most sun damage takes much longer and appears in the form of freckles, moles, and other types of hyperpigmentation (dark spots). As we get older, we notice more and more hyperpigmentation popping up on our skin, typically in areas that are or were regularly exposed to the sun. This means hyperpigmentation on your face, neck, chest, tops of the hands, and limbs if you frequently sore short sleeves or shorts without proper protection.
Is Sun Damage Dangerous?
Sun damage isn’t a good thing because it’s indicative of your skin being damaged. However, not all sun damage is inherently “dangerous,” and of course, not all sun damage will develop into skin cancer. Moles are the most common type of hyperpigmentation that can clue us into potential skin cancer. We can follow the ABCDEs of moles to see if they are 1) asymmetrical 2) have borders that are even or not 3) have color that is uniform or not 4) have a diameter larger than the head of a pencil eraser, and 5) are evolving. If you notice an asymmetrical mole, has an uneven border or color that isn’t uniform, is large, or evolves, that’s a red flag that you have a mole that needs to be checked by a dermatologist.
Monthly at-home skin checks are a great new habit to adopt, especially if you have someone that can check areas you can’t see well, such as your back and scalp. Swapping monthly checks with a trusted family member or friend is a great monthly to-do. However, these checks do not take the place of annual checks with your dermatologist. If you haven’t had a professional mole check in the past year, schedule yours now.
Bettering Your Sun Protection Today
Ideally, we would all have parents who followed sun protection best practices from the day we were born, and we sustained those practices every day until today. That simply isn’t reality. Yes, it’s best to start protecting your skin from UV damage as soon as you can, but TODAY is the ideal day to start, too! Here’s how.
Liberally apply a medical-grade sunscreen or sunblock every time your skin will be exposed to UV rays. This requires reapplying every 75 minutes, and it counts if you’re technically indoors or in a car, too. Windows do not offer UV protection. Cover your skin whenever you can if UV rays are around as well, such as wearing long sleeves, pants, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses.
And if you do have sun damage that bothers you? We can remove that! Book your complimentary cosmetic consultation for sun damage removal today and your mole check with a dermatologist. Contact RefinedMD today by calling our office or using the contact form below.