Photoaging happens when our skin is repeatedly exposed to harmful UV rays. Common symptoms are wrinkled and sagging skin, pigmented spots and loss of skin tone, among others. You’ll likely see the skin damage in the areas most often exposed to the sun; ie. face, neck, hands, and legs. Always be mindful of the sun and protect yourself against dangerous, cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation.
You look in the mirror and the face staring back at you seems a bit. . . weathered. The wrinkles are coming in strong, you see pigmented spots here and there, and your skin is sagging every which way but Sunday.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans experience this exact process of premature aging, also called “photoaging.” While it isn’t dangerous in and of itself, the ultraviolet (UV) rays that cause it are potentially deadly. And since there’s a lot of mystery and misunderstanding surrounding UV and photoaging, we’ve come to set the record straight.
What Exactly is Photoaging?
Take a look at the etymology of the word photoaging and you’ll see it means “aging by light.” When our skin is repeatedly exposed to UV light from the sun (or other UV sources such as tanning beds), the radiation causes skin damage that ultimately leaves our skin looking. . . well. . . aged. Without weighing you down with too much technical jargon, what’s happening is that the UV rays kill off our collagen, which are the proteins that keep our skin looking youthful and taut.
Unfortunately, photoaging is difficult to hide. It occurs most often on the face, neck, hands, and legs — the body parts that just love to soak in the sun. And while wrinkles, sagging, and spots are all telltale signs of photoaging, the symptoms are actually quite broad and include:
- Spider veins
- Leathery skin
- Loss of skin tone
- Lips that lack definition and fullness
- Frown lines on the forehead
- And others
How to Deal with Photoaging?
So what to do? Well, first of all, limit your exposure to the sun. They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And this axiom holds true when it comes to skin damage from the sun. Now, this doesn’t mean never go outdoors again, but rather be mindful of your time in the sun, and always take the necessary precautions to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
And if you’re concerned about certain spots, bumps, moles or marks, seek professional medical advice. If you experience photoaging, it means you’ve been exposed to your fair share of harmful UV rays. And if you’ve been exposed to harmful UV rays, you could be at risk of skin cancer. This isn’t to scare you, this is only to keep you informed.