The summer months usually equate to increased sun exposure for everyone, not just because there are more daylight hours, but because summer activities lend themselves to being outdoors. As we age, our skin starts to show some of this repeated exposure to the sun in the form of splotchy skin.
Hyperpigmentation is the darkening of the skin in certain areas that have increased melanin. There are many reasons for hyperpigmentation, and the sun is one of them. Skin that has been damaged by UVA/UVB rays is not only compromised in appearance, it is a precursor to skin cancer.
Reversing Sun Damaged Skin
There are ways to rewind the impacts of the sun on the skin, particularly the face and neck. The best and optimal way to deal with sun damaged skin is to not have it happen in the first place by wearing sunscreen and UPF protectant clothing and hats.
Despite many well-intentioned efforts to avoid sun damage, many still get it. Options range from over-the-counter creams to laser treatments. We highlight a few below.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL): This method of photorejuvenation takes place over a series of 3 to 5 treatments. IPL can reduce the appearance of dark spots, age spots, broken blood vessels, and rosacea. After effects are limited to localized darkening of the skin which sloths off in a few days.
Blue Light Therapy: Also known as photodynamic therapy, is very common for actinic keratosis or red splotchy skin resulting from sun damage, acne, or surface skin cancers. A topical medication will be applied to enable better processing of the light. Peeling and redness are very common following this treatment.
Skin Pen: Microneedling creates tiny punctures in the skin that open up channels for the skin's own collagen to merge with the topicals used in the treatment, speeding the skin's recovery and improving appearance and texture. The skin will remain red for 1-2 days but heal quickly.
Skin Peels: Removing the top layers of the skin encourages collagen production and pulls newer layers of skin to the surface, resulting in smoother skin, more even skin tone, and less dark spots. Skin will sloth off for 3-7 days, but the appearance is manageable with proper aftercare moisturizer and sunscreen applications.
Bleaching Cream & Pigment Reducer: Topical treatments can be found at the dermatologist’s office in prescription strength or over the counter at the grocery store. Topical skin creams and serums have made great improvements in formulations and are effective at decreasing the dark spots, freckles, acne scars, and sun damage. Often times, though, patients cannot get a fully even skin tone utilizing solely topical creams. They can be a great start and maintenance component of any beauty regimen.
See A Dermatologist
The best way to handle hyperpigmentation, scarring, broken blood vessels, and rosacea from sun damage is to visit with your dermatologist. An annual body skin check will also provide peace of mind for any new or suspicious marks on your body.