Most Common Skin Condition Caused by the Sun
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Today I will be covering a topic that is both serious and relatively unknown. We all know the dangers and repercussions of being exposed to the sun for long periods of time. From sunburns, dry skin, blistering, and even headaches the natural remedies for this are to drink water, find shade, use aloe vera, and take a pain killer. But today I am not talking about sunburns or being exposed to the sun too much in a day but instead too much in a lifetime…
The most common skin condition caused by the sun is called Actinic Keratosis (ak-TIN-ik ker-uh-TOE-sis, also known as solar keratosis. It is the result of skin being damaged by the sun over many years. Solar Keratoses are usually rough, scaly patches on sun-exposed areas such as the head and face, areas that are constantly exposed to the sun. This condition is quite common, especially in older people, many of whom have more than one. Usually, they are harmless but there is a small risk that they may eventually turn into skin cancer. So, treatment is advised. Ideally, we want to avoid getting to the point where treatment is required by reducing the likelihood of getting Solar Keratosis.
What does Solar Keratosis look like?
Each can vary in size from that of a pinhead to 1-3 cm across. Their colour can be dark, light, red, pink, the same colour as your skin, or even a combination of these. The top of each one may have a yellow-white, scaly crust. Redness may develop in the surrounding skin. The picture below shows actinic keratoses on a forehead.
Often Solar keratoses will feel rough and dry. They are slightly raised from the surface of the skin. As a result, it is easier to feel rather than see them. They can also be hard and warty. Sometimes hard skin grows out of Solar keratosis like a horn (called a cutaneous horn). Actinic keratoses usually develop on areas of skin that have received a lot of sun exposure. The skin on the following areas is commonly affected:
- Bald patches on the scalp
- The backs of the hands
Sun safety is necessary to help prevent the development and recurrence of solar keratosis patches and spots.
Please take these steps to protect your skin from the sun:
- Limit your time in the sun. Especially avoid the hottest times of the day, usually between 10 am. and 2 pm as this is the time of the day that will exhibit the highest UV index.
- Use sunscreen. Before spending time outdoors, even on cloudy days or cold days apply a broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30
- Cover up, wear a hat with a wide brim and clothing that protects your skin from the sun. Some clothing is rated with a UV protection factor (UPF)
- Use sunscreen on all exposed skin and use lip balm with sunscreen on your lips. Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outside and reapply it every two hours — or more often if you're swimming or sweating
If you do get a sunburn trying using a Vitamin C Serum with MAP. Not only can Vitamin C prevent sunburns but it can help heal your skin if you get a little too much sun! It may help soothe sunburns, in addition to minimizing redness, vitamin C accelerates cell turnover. This replaces the damaged cells with healthy new ones, speeding up the healing process. Healthy wound healing via Vitamin C reduces your risk for inflammation, infection, and scarring.
For more info read our blog about the Importance of Vitamin C!
Check your skin regularly and report changes to your dermatologist. Examine your skin regularly, looking for the development of new skin growths or changes in existing freckles, moles, bumps, and birthmarks. With the help of mirrors, check your face, neck, ears, and scalp. Examine the tops and undersides of your arms and hands. Please take care of your skin!