Not all skin problems come from direct sun exposure, such as swimming at the beach or having fun outside. You may be getting most of your sun damage when you don’t even realize it – when you are in your car. Although windshields are laminated and filter out Ultra Violet A (UVA) rays, side windows are not. As a result, many US patients experience sun damage on their left sides, as UVA radiation penetrates through the driver-side window of the car. Skin exposed to light through a window, either in a car, at home, or in the office leads to significant damage, which is cumulative and may cause greater skin problems in the future, such as skin pre-cancers, and skin cancers.
Skin Problems Caused By Sun Exposure
There are many signs of skin damage due to sun exposure. Some are visible immediately, while others take years to become obvious. It is important to know your skin and spot damage as early as possible with a thorough skin screening performed by a board certified dermatologist.
Sunburn may seem rather trivial, but even the lightest burn may result in skin problems later in life. A mild sunburn typically lasts for a few days and is characterized by skin turning red and feeling warm and painful to the touch. Your skin may also feel itchy and peel. More serious sunburns may cause blisters to form on your skin or result in severe pain and fever. Blistering sunburns are a risk factor for melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.
Actinic keratoses are pre-cancers from sun exposure. These are rough, scaly patches of skin or bumps that look like warts or horns that may itch or feel sensitive. Actinic keratoses can be brown, pink or red. Often, they may come and go. They commonly appear on your face, ears, neck, scalp, arms and hands – all of which are areas that may be exposed to the sun’s rays. It is important to keep an eye on your skin for any changes, new lesions, or areas that are rough, sensitive or bleeding, and point them out to your dermatologist.
Freckles are often called sun spots, liver spots, or age spots. They are brown, usually flat, and often more prominent on sun-exposed skin, such as the face, chest and hands. While freckles themselves are usually not harmful, their presence is an indication of sun damage and increased risk for skin cancers caused by sun exposure. Additionally, many patients do not like the look of freckles and come to the office asking for ways to remove them in order to improve the appearance of their skin. Options for removal include skin lightening creams and lasers.
Rosacea is redness or flushing of the cheeks, sometimes accompanied by pimples, or change in the skin texture. There are many factors that cause rosacea, but sun is an important trigger, especially in South Florida. The sun’s rays are powerful enough to harm the blood vessels under your skin. The disorder mainly affects your face and turns it red. Over time the redness increases and blood vessels may become visible and can be permanent.
Sun exposure is the number one cause of skin cancer. Nearly half of Americans who are 65 or older will develop a skin cancer. The most common types are Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma, and they usually present on the skin as pimples that do not heal, or an area that tends to bleed or is sensitive to touch. Luckily, they are often only locally aggressive in the skin, rarely resulting in fatalities. However, scars from skin cancer surgeries can be deforming. Additionally, certain types of melanoma, the most serious and deadly form of skin cancer, can be due to excessive sun exposure. It is important to evaluate your skin for any new or changing moles and alert your dermatologist.
How To Protect Your Skin
People often ask us our top anti-aging recommendation, and the answer is always sunblock. Wearing sunscreen daily is a must of anyone, regardless of whether you live in a warm or cold climate. Sunscreens should be broad spectrum, meaning that they protect against UVA and UVB rays. Be sure to check the label of the product to ensure that it has at least SPF 30 or higher. Recent studies show that the higher the SPF, the better protection from sunburn. Wearing sunscreen daily will also protect your skin against signs of aging such as wrinkles, brown spots, and permanent blood vessels.
Most people do not realize they can get damage through the glass windows, since UVB rays which cause a sunburn cannot penetrate through window glass. However, UVA rays can, causing both wrinkles and skin cancers. Llumar, FormulaOne, Solar Guard and 3M are just a few companies that make clear or tinted UV blocking films for car or house windows. You can simply ask your car dealership to add this film on your next service.
Remember, it is also important to visit your dermatologist for your annual skin check. Most people do not know how to recognize all types of skin cancer, and also cannot see their entire body, such as their back. During a thorough skin check, your board-certified dermatologist may spot something early, which could save your life.
With dermatology offices in Boca Raton and Boynton Beach, Siperstein Dermatology Group offers board-certified dermatologists, physician assistants, and licensed aestheticians to keep your skin both healthy and beautiful. Contact us today to schedule a consultation!