If you didn’t diligently apply sunscreen in your younger years, or if you’ve had several sunburns throughout your life, there’s a good sign that your skin is sun-damaged to some degree. While just about everyone has at least some sun damage, below are five signs of sun-damaged skin that you should address with your dermatologist right away.
#1 – Consistently Dry Skin
One of the very first signs of significantly sun-damaged skin is dryness that doesn’t respond to various at-home treatments. If your skin appears dry and flaky, and if there appear to be more wrinkles in these areas than in regions of your skin that are almost never exposed to the sun, this is a surefire sign that you have at least some degree of damage. Contact your dermatologist, who will likely recommend products and procedures to treat this excessive dryness.
#2 – Actinic Keratosis
Actinic keratosis is a medical term for rough, scaly patches of skin caused by years of sun exposure. Sometimes, it presents as a patch of skin covered in tiny bumps that feel like sandpaper when you run your fingers over it; in other cases, it may appear as a flaky patch of peeling skin that doesn’t go away. Sometimes the skin can even be discolored and appear brown, pink, or yellow. See a dermatologist for the best treatment options for your needs.
#3 – Premature Collagen Changes
Collagen keeps your skin plump and elastic, which is essential for maintaining your youthful appearance. Skin that has been damaged by the sun often lacks collagen, which can lead to premature wrinkles, sagging, and even thicker skin. For some people, this loss of collagen can also lead to more frequent bruising. Dermatologists and aestheticians alike can provide you with numerous treatment options designed to help replace plumpness and trigger collagen production.
#4 – Scaly Patches or Skin Ulcers that Don’t Heal
Melanoma is a form of cancer that starts on the skin but can spread elsewhere in the body when left untreated. As of 2022, the survival rates for individuals who develop melanoma are incredibly high; 99% of those who catch their melanoma early can go on to lead a normal life. If you notice scaly patches or skin ulcers on your skin that do not heal – especially if these patches itch, burn, or bleed – see your dermatologist right away. These are common signs of melanoma and they should be addressed as soon as possible.
#5 – Moles that Change Size, Shape, or Color
Many people have moles on different parts of their bodies – including their faces – that are no cause for concern. However, sometimes melanoma can present itself as a slow change in an existing mole, which can make it difficult to detect at first. Watch for moles with asymmetrical borders, moles that consist of multiple colors, or moles that grow larger than the size of a pencil eraser. If you notice any of these, schedule an appointment with a medical professional.
The five signs and symptoms above all point toward significant skin damage that should be evaluated by a dermatologist. If you are not yet experiencing these issues but you are concerned about sun damage, book an appointment with an aesthetician to discuss your treatment options.