Pigmentation & Sun Damage

Exposure to the harmful ultraviolet radiation (UV) of the sun damages our skin in a number of ways. Most people are aware of the issues related to premature ageing and sunburn, and are well-educated on the risk of skin cancer.

There are a number of other conditions related to sun exposure, such as:

  • Polymorphic Light Eruption: a sunlight-sensitive rash, which may appear as small lumps or even hives.
  • Actinic Keratoses: begin as small rough spots that enlarge and redden over time, as a result of prolonged, long-term sun exposure. The lesions commonly progress to malignant (cancerous) lesions.
  • Freckles: clusters of pigment on the skin, seen as small, flat brownish-coloured spots.
  • Liver spots (Lentigines): flat, hyperpigmented spots similar to freckles, which appear on ageing skin as a result of sun exposure.
  • Skin Cancer:
    Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC): slow-growing skin cancer considered the least dangerous, commonly found on ears, nose, neck and face.
    Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC): commonly appearing on face, neck, hands and arms, may spread if left untreated.
    Melanoma: the most dangerous form of skin cancer, usually arising from an existing freckle or mole. Melanomas can be found even on skin that is not exposed to the sun, and can spread and become fatal rapidly.

The Symptoms

Photo-damaged skin may display some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Wrinkles
  • Areas of irregular pigmentation and/or tone
  • Thin skin
  • Scaly patches
  • Freckles and moles
  • Liver spots
  • Severely photo-damaged skin may show evidence of pre-cancerous changes (e.g. actinic keratosis) or active cancers (i.e. BCC, SCC and melanoma)

People concerned about changes to skin, especially as a result of sun exposure, should seek advice from a dermatologist.

The Causes

Direct sunlight causes changes to elastin and collagen fibres in the skin, causing the sagging, stretching and wrinkling commonly associated with sun exposure. Premature ageing as a result of exposure to the sun’s UV rays can be seen in the skin of the hands, face, chest, arms and legs.

UV radiation is usually refers to UVA rays, which make up the bulk of the radiation reaching the Earth. These rays penetrate skin deeply and are responsible for the tanning and ageing changes seen in sun-exposed skin. UVB rays penetrate only the superficial layers of the skin, and are responsible for the burning of sun-exposed skin, as well as the majority of skin cancers. However, both types of UV rays may initiate the development of skin cancer, and research has demonstrated that both have a contributory role.

The Treatment

For sunburn, treatment objectives are to reduce inflammation and pain. Simple remedies for relief range from cold compresses, aloe gels, and pain medication (e.g. paracetamol) to ensuring good hydration and staying cool.

For mildly photo-damaged skin, there may be a number of symptoms to be targeted, and therefore any cosmetic treatment must be considered, recommended and administered by a Cosmetic Doctor.

At Ocean Cosmetics, we have a variety of treatments for sun damaged skin which include:

  • Chemical Peels can be used in the treatment of photo-damage by encouraging the shedding of the damaged layers of the skin.
  • Clear & Brilliant Permea (1927 fractional laser) creates microscopic lesions across the surface of the skin to help promote quick healing revealing fresher, smoother & healthier skin.
  • BroadBand Light can be very effective in lightening photo-damage. This can be performed by our Dermal Therapists every 3-6 weeks for a course of 3-4 sessions.
  • Alternatively, Revlite by CynoSure is performed by our Cosmetic Doctors and can treat spot sizes of pigmentation with the highest degree of effectiveness & comfort.
  • Fraxel Laser Therapy is another treatment option when targeting problem areas. Fraxel is performed only by Cosmetic Doctors and the results are focused & effective, minimising the appearance of age spots.

Please Note: In the treating of photo-damage it is very important to ensure that sun exposure is kept to an absolute minimum and a 50+ sunscreen such as B3-T is worn daily.

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