Photo-aging refers to the damage caused to skin cells by solar radiation. While the sun’s UVB rays damage the DNA and other parts of the epidermis, the UVA rays penetrate even deeper into the skin, causing damage to collagen, elastic tissues, immune cells and blood vessels. This damage usually becomes more obvious with age, as the amount of sun damage that the skin has experienced begins to accumulate, resulting in wrinkles, age spots and uneven pigmentation.
The most effective way to prevent photo-aging is by regularly applying a broad spectrum sunscreen, as this will protect your skin from both the UVA as well as the UVB rays. Even on a cloudy and overcast day, 80% of the sun’s rays are still able to penetrate into your skin, making sunscreen a necessity on a daily basis, even if you may think that you don’t need it on certain days. You should also try to stay out of the sun at its strongest hours, usually between 11 AM and 4 PM, although this does vary depending on your location. Finally, there are certain fabrics that you can wear that will offer your skin optimum sun protection, such as tightly woven cotton blends.
No matter what the visible effects of photo-aging on your skin may be, from wrinkles to age spots to uneven pigmentation, the damage can still be repaired to some extent, so it is important to make this a priority in your skin care routine. Antioxidants are vital when it comes to this, as they are able to enhance the way in which skin cells are able to repair the damage. Vitamin A has also been proven to be highly effective at treating photo-aging, because it is able to reduce large wrinkles and age spots, while stimulating the production of collagen. There are also many retinoid products targeted towards tackling uneven pigmentation. Alpha hydroxy acids can also be used to minimize the signs of photo aging. They work as an exfoliant, increasing cell turnover which allows your body to shed the damaged cells.
If your symptoms of photo-aging are more severe, then you may want to consider some of the newer treatment methods that have become available. Photodynamic therapy involves applying a specific formula to the skin and giving it time to penetrate before using a light-sensitizing machine to activate the ingredients in the formula, resulting in an increase in collagen production. Intense pulsed light is another light therapy technique that is especially effective when it comes to smoothing out uneven pigmentation. Laser therapy can also be used to treat a number of the issues that result from photo-aging, such as reducing age spots and wrinkles, as well as minimizing blood vessels.
The sun’s UV rays account for 90% of premature skin aging, so it is necessary to tackle photo aging as soon as possible. Since photo aging is unavoidable to a large extent, it is important to recognize the damage that the sun does to your skin, even if it may not yet be visible to the eye.