Sun Damaged Skin: Causes & Effect

Sunlight is one of the key contributors to skin aging. Wrinkles, age spots, loss of elasticity, dryness, various tumors, uneven skin structure – all these things appear due to years of poor protection from UV-radiation.

The skin has three layers: the outer layer – epidermis, the middle layer – dermis and the basement layer, or subcutis. The dermis contains collagen and elastin that maintain the skin’s structure. Due to these elements skin looks smooth and youthful. Over time, ultraviolet radiation from the sun (UVR) destroys collagen and elastin. Destroyed fibers lose elasticity and the ability to contract after stretching, skin is no longer in a good tone.

UVR consists of different types of waves, UVA and UVB. After UVR contacts the skin, cells in the dermis start to produce melanin. Thanks to this reaction the skin becomes tanned, which in fact is just a protection mechanism to block the penetration of the radiation.

UVB has shorter rays and is responsible for sunburn. UVA has longer rays and is responsible for the most of the damage of photoaging.

The main effects of photoaging:

Healthy skin

Sun-damaged skin

 even texture and color 

 uneven, with pigmented spots, freckling, melasma, vitiligo, sun lentigo, chronic teardrop idiopathic hypomelanosis, different skin tumors, including basal-cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma

 very elastic and never dry

 dehydrated, thin, bad tone

 no wrinkles

 network of small and deep wrinkles, accompanied by the appearance of various defects on it

 resistant to the effects of adverse factors (weather conditions, infections, diseases of internal organs)


vulnerable to the adverse factors effects 

The clinical signs of acute UV exposure include sunburn and skin pigmentation. Sunburn is a simple dermatitis and is manifested by erythema and edema (first-degree sunburn) or erythema and the formation of blisters (second degree). Third-degree sunburn is rare, seen mainly in infants and accompanied by heat shock. Pigmentation (suntan) has two types – instant and delayed. A few minutes after insolation an immediate skin darkening occurs that is associated with the photooxidation of the already synthesized melanin and its rapid redistribution into the epidermal cells.

Delayed pigmentation happens after 48-72 hours and is associated with active synthesis of melanin. Delayed pigmentation can also be explained by the formation of secondary post-inflammatory pigmentation as a result of simple dermatitis or a burn.

The likelihood of developing skin cancer increases with age, especially for those living in regions with high level of insolation. Almost all cases of skin cancer are the result of excessive sun exposure, as well as the result of regular visits to tanning salons.

Annually large amount of money is spent on an anti-wrinkle creams, products and bleaching procedures to reduce age spots, to keep the skin smooth and healthy. But the simplest and cheapest way to keep your skin healthy and look younger is to stay away from the sun, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM, and to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30+ every day.


Julie Lindh Skin Expert

May 04, 2018 by Jennifer Taylor

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