Sunday, 27 April 2014

How to prevent photoageing: premature ageing of skin on exposure to UV rays

Photoaging is premature aging of the skin caused by repeated exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) primarily from the sun, but also from artificial UV sources. Photo means light so photo ageing means ageing of skin caused by light.

Q What is photoageing?

Ans. Changes in the skin caused by years of long, uninterrupted exposure to sunlight or Ultraviolet rays to be precise.

Q How does exactly photoaged skin looks like?

Ans. A photoaged skin looks clinically different from normal ageing skin. Apart from fine and coarse wrinkling, it shows laxity, sagging, prominent blood vessels, mottled pigmentation, leathery feel and increased fragility. The lips lose their color and the entire face is lusterless.

Q What are the causes?
Ans. – 

Ultraviolet light (the major source of which is Sun) is absorbed by the skin especially the second layer of dermis. Dermis is formed by a tightly formed network of collagen and elastin fibers. This arrangement which is responsible for the resilience of the skin gets disturbed by chronic sun exposure. The fibers change their composition and abnormal material starts getting deposited leading to age spots and pigmentation.

Chronic sun exposure also leads to accumulation of toxins and free radicals which can even make skin prone to malignancy. UV A is the major culprit as it is absorbed deeper into the skin along with a little contribution from UV B wavelength.

Q How to prevent photoageing?


1. The first and most vital step is patient education and awareness about the importance of sun protection.

2. Avoid going out between 11 am to 3 pm.

3. Sun protective clothing, head gears and even UV protected sun glasses are a must have.

4. Sunscreen usage- A particularly daunting challenge is to choose the right sunscreen. Most of the sunscreens do not offer broad spectrum protection because of the unavailability of good UV- A Sunscreen agents. A Good SPF only ensures protection against UVB while there are no accepted standard criteria for UV-A protection. 

5. Right usage of sunscreen– The sunscreen has to be applied in generous amounts at-least half an hour before going out in the sun and should be reapplied every three hours.

Minimum SPF of 30 with Adequate UVA protection is must.
Patients who have already started developing changes suggestive of photoageing can opt for glycolic peels or alpha hydroxy acids.

Since sun damage is cumulative it is never too late to start! so start your regimen of preventing photoageing now!
Stay skin healthy and skin wise!!!

Dr Divya Sharma is a practicing dermatologist at Bangalore. The data shared in this blog is her personal opinion based on her knowledge and experience. The author is not responsible for any adverse event that arises out of following blog opinion
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