By now, we all know the importance of proper sunscreen use during the summer months. But what about the rest of the year? Research shows more than 90 percent of visible markers of aging (i.e., wrinkles, age spots and fine lines) are related to skin damage caused by the sun, including during cloudy, overcast weather. In this blog post, Chicago plastic surgeon Dr. Mohammed Alghoul of Northwestern Plastic Surgery explains the importance of sunscreen use year round and offers tips on how to keep your skin radiant and healthy.
The Truth About Sun Damage
The weather may be cooler, but your risk for sun damage remains. While the sun’s UVB rays (those responsible for sunburns) are not as strong, UVA rays can still reach and harm your skin. UVA rays can penetrate your skin deeper than UVB rays and cause unsightly signs of premature aging to surface, including wrinkles, fine lines and age spots. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), nearly 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays can reach your skin on a cloudy day, most of these being UVA rays. Additionally, reflective surfaces such as snow, sand and water reflect the sun’s rays, increasing the need for sunscreen use.
To protect your skin from sun damage, the AAD suggests applying sunscreen whenever outside, including whenever you are driving, as UVA rays can penetrate through glass.
The best way to minimize sun damage is by practicing proper sun protection, including using sunscreen. The AAD recommends wearing water resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher. Apply sunscreen to all exposed areas of the body, including the face and hands. Remember to apply sunscreen approximately 15 minutes before heading outdoors and reapply every two hours.
In addition to sunscreen, remember to cover up as much as possible to limit your skin’s exposure to the sun. Long-sleeved shirts and broad-brimmed hats can offer much needed protection. UV-blocking sunglasses with wraparound or large frames can protect the eyes and prevent crow’s feet or fine lines around the eyes from forming. The AAD also recommends limiting your time out in the sun, especially during peak times (10am-4pm).
How to Relieve Sun Damage
While some sun damage over time is inevitable, there are steps you can take to restore your skin’s natural glow. Exfoliating at home with a gentle scrub sloughs away dead cells and makes way for healthy, smoother skin. For deeper sun damage, Dr. Alghoul offers several skin resurfacing procedures, including laser skin treatment to achieve younger-looking skin. Laser photorejuvenation uses pulsating laser beams to vanquish old, damaged skin cells, revealing a fresh layer of vibrant, healthy skin.
To learn more about your skin resurfacing options, schedule a consultation with Dr. Alghoul today. Please call Northwestern Plastic Surgery at (312) 695-5663.