Plano is well-known for its outstanding parks, trail systems
Whether you are playing golf at Pecan Hollow, hiking at Oak Point, paddling down the West Fork of the Trinity River or exploring nature just outside the DFW Metroplex at Ray Roberts Lake State Park, don’t forget to take care of your skin!
With warmer spring weather comes swimming, fishing and plenty of other activities out in the sun which can lead to skin damage that will stay with you forever.
What Is Sun Damage?
Sun damage is cumulative and occurs over time after repeated or extended sun exposure. As the sun’s ultraviolet light breaks down the elastin in the skin, it accelerates the aging process and makes your skin sag.
Though sun damage can affect anyone, it is more common in people with light skin and eyes or those who have freckles, moles or a family history of skin cancer.
“A sunburn is the most obvious symptom of sun damage, but just because you don’t have a sunburn doesn’t mean damage hasn’t occurred,” says Dr. Rachel Quinby-Graves, a board-certified dermatologist with U.S. Dermatology Partners of Plano. “If you begin to see long-term changes in your skin such as more wrinkles, easy bruising on your hands, a patch of scaly skin or a thick, leathery consistency to your skin’s overall texture, it could also be the beginning symptoms of sun damage.”
How to Prevent Sun-Damaged Skin
The very best way to avoid sun damage is to stay out of the sun, but then you would miss all of Plano’s outdoor fun! Here are some practical tips to prevent sun-damaged skin in Plano while still enjoying the great outdoors:
While you are playing outside, make sure to always wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and reapply every two hours. Try to stay out of the sun during the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. when ultraviolet rays are at their strongest. If you do venture outside during peak sun hours, pack an umbrella for portable shade or take frequent breaks under the cover of a big tree.
Wearing long sleeves, darker colors, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses that filter out UV rays is also a great defense against sun damage.
What about your lips — can they sunburn? Yes! Lips have very thin skin and are especially vulnerable to the sun’s damaging UV rays. Sun damage to your lips causes lip lines and wrinkles around your mouth over time. Chose a lip-protection balm and reapply it every hour while you are outside.
And, of course, always stay away from tanning beds. Not only do tanning beds prematurely age your skin, they are also closely linked with skin cancer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, people who first use a tanning bed before the age of 35 increase their risk of melanoma by 75 percent.
Treating Sun-Damaged Skin
If the sun has already damaged your skin, don’t despair! All hope isn’t lost. Depending on the type of sun damage you have, the extent and how long you’ve had it, there are treatment options available to improve your skin’s look and feel.
“A deep, high-quality moisturizer after sun exposure, or a light topical aloe vera gel after a sunburn, can help restore moisture to your skin,” says Quinby-Graves. “When sun damage is long-term and the skin’s collagen has been permanently changed, treatment is much more difficult, but there are options to make skin appear smoother and more youthful.”
Treatments such as chemical peels, laser skin resurfacing and dermabrasion, for example, can help to remove damaged skin cells so that new, smoother skin can grow in its place. Many of these treatments are non-invasive and can be done in your doctor’s office. Some can even be repeated or combined with other treatments for best results.
The best strategy for sun-damaged skin, however, is prevention. It’s never too early to start protecting your skin and make good sun safety a habit. Studies show that over 80 percent of your skin’s aging appearance is due to sun exposure, and reducing your cumulative sun exposure is the best way to control your risk of skin cancer.
So, while you are out in Plano, jamming at the Texas Music Revolution or just enjoying the beautiful spring weather, make sure to always protect your skin.
Is your skin showing signs of sun damage? U.S. Dermatology Partners of Plano can help. Contact us today to make an appointment with one of our board-certified dermatologists who can help your skin get back to looking its best.