Your skin is your first defense against the elements. It protects your body’s bones, muscles, and organs, and guards against infection. However, the skin is also vulnerable to damage, especially by the sun, which often results in premature aging and an increased risk for skin cancer.
Why Skin Ages
The sun is the primary culprit of skin damage. When your skin is exposed to the harsh rays of the sun, the top layer of skin cells become uneven and scaly. Even after your skin heals, fine lines, wrinkles, and freckles may develop. Even if you don’t sunburn often, direct exposure to the sun generates free radicals that further damages your skin on the cellular level. Free radicals alter skin cell DNA, resulting in changes in skin texture and increasing your risk of cancer.
Skin damage can also result in premature aging. Your skin’s firmness and smoothness relies on an underlying layer of collagen that supports muscles and tissues. After sun damage occurs, collagen begins to break down, resulting in sagging or lumpy skin. Smoking and genetics also affects how your collagen develops and breaks down.
Preventing Skin Damage
The best way to prevent damage to your skin from the sun is to wear sunscreen and re-apply often. Use sunscreen any time you’ll be outside for an extended period of time, even if it’s during the winter. The more damaged your skin is, the harder your body has to work to repair your skin cells, so it’s important to remain vigilant about protecting your skin. Regular consultations with your dermatologist will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. Contact the Skin & Vein Center located in the Kansas City area for treatment choices tailored to your specific needs.