The Sun and Ageing of the Skin
As the body ages, the appearance and characteristics of the skin change. Areas of skin exposed to the sunlight’s ultraviolet radiation suffer the most damage and will age faster. This deterioration can occur at an early age in people who have spent a lot of time outdoors and those who are often badly sunburned, particularly those who are fair skinned.
The process is known as photoageing. It is attributed to a combination of short wavelength (UVB) injury to the epidermis (outside layers of the skin) and long wavelength (UVA) to the dermis (middle layers).
The continuous and profound effects of oxidation, ionisation and genetic changes of cellular components including DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) weakens the skin’s immune system. Skin damaged this way is also more prone to developing skin cancer.
Scarring from repeated inflammation due to sunburn (also acne and other skin diseases) increases dermal collagen and causes the dermis to lose elasticity. The epidermis becomes thinner so the skin easily dries up, blisters, and tears. The skin is weaker than normal and feels dry because it is less able to hold water.
The ageing changes are particularly apparent on the face where fine lines and wrinkles, discolouration and textural changes can be noticed.
Lingering under the sun without adequate protection causes overactivity of tanning cells, called melanocytes. Consequently, ugly sights of blotchy pigmentation with brown freckles, solar lentigines and white marks will appear.
Tangled masses of damaged elastin protein in the dermis result to yellow thickened bumps (elastosis or heliosis). Aging skin is also very prone to develop brown warty lesions (seborrhoeic keratoses), cherry red spots (angiomas), dilated small blood vessels (telangiectases) and bruises (senile purpura).
Tender red dry spots or solar keratoses (also known as actinic keratoses), though more common on the backs of the hands are also often found on the temples, bridge of nose, cheeks and upper lip.
The degree of photoageing has been classified by dermatologists as: Mild (age 28-35 years): Few wrinkles, no keratoses; Moderate (age 35-50 years): early wrinkling, sallow complexion with early actinic keratoses; Advanced (age 50-60 years): persistent wrinkling, discoloration of the skin with actinic keratoses; and, Severe (age 65-70 years): severe wrinkling, photoaging, gravitational and dynamic forces affecting skin, actinic keratoses with or without skin cancer.
To remedy, or if only to delay further harm, it is still best to completely protect sun-damaged skin from more sun exposure. Outdoor activities during the middle of the day, especially on summer should be avoided and sunscreens should be applied daily, more often when outdoors.
All of the Cosmiko range is available with SPF25 sun screen as a no cost option, including our lip balms and lip butters, an area that is sometimes overlooked.
If you have any concerns about your skin consult your GP. He or she may refer you to a dermatologist for further investigations. There are a wide range of treatments that will improve the quality of skin and reverse the signs of ageing. They include BOTOX® injections to reduce frowning and several resurfacing procedures such as dermabrasion, chemical peels, and laser resurfacing remove the top layer of damaged skin. For more serious damage cosmetic surgery may be the best option, again your doctor should be the first person you speak to about the options to consider.