Wrinkles, fine lines and pigmentation are inevitable signs of the skin that appear as we age. Some changes that become more and more evident, helped not only by the passage of time, but also by external factors such as sun exposure, which can alter the appearance of the skin and even its structure.
Photoaging, the effect of sun exposure on facial aging
One of the main culprits is photoaging, that is, skin damage caused by exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet light. considered responsible 90% of visible skin changesIt is the direct result of accumulated sun damage throughout life.
The skin is made up of three layers: the epidermis (the outermost layer), the dermis (middle layer containing collagen, elastin and other fibers that support the structure of the skin) and the subcutis (the innermost layer). The elements of the dermis are what give our skin its youthful appearance and which, over the years, are damaged by UV radiation (including UVA and UVB).
When we expose the skin to these rays, its DNA is damaged. In response, the cells of the dermis produce melanin in the epidermis to prevent further damage, tanning, which is the skin’s response to try to block radiation.
While UVB rays burn, UVA rays age the skin because they can penetrate deeper into the skin and are the ones that play an important role in skin aging and wrinkles.
Photoaging is the premature aging of the skin that differs from chronological aging in that the damaging effects of the sun’s rays alter the normal structures of the skin. So, it is irreversible.
What are the signs of photoaging on the face?
Chronic overexposure to UV rays can damage the skin’s immune system, degrading its ability to protect the body from disease-causing microorganisms and to heal wounds.
The number of immune cells in the skin decreases significantly as a result of both UV exposure and normal aging processes.
Some of the clearer signs are:
- Wrinkles and fine lines around the eyes, mouth, and forehead: they are caused by exposure to UVA rays. With continuous exposure to the sun for several years, the wrinkles around the eyes and mouth increase and turn into deep folds; Frown lines appear and are visible when you are not frowning.
- Couperose or spider veins on the nose or cheeks: they become visible through the skin of the face (telangiectasias) due to changes in their size.
- Freckles or pigmented spots
- Melasma: gray-brown spots on the skin.
- Dryness and roughness to the touch: general loss of skin tone in areas most exposed to the sun.
- Thickening of the epidermis and destruction of elastic fibers: this is very graphic Photography published in The New England Journal of Medicine in which experts show the effects of the sun on a truck driver on a part of the face during years of sun exposure, demonstrating how the sun multiplies aging.
- Senile or actinic lentigo: as recognized by the AEDV, it is a response of the skin to ultraviolet radiation that mainly affects the most exposed areas such as the face or neck. These lesions usually appear in white people over the age of 60 and are associated with a history of long sun exposure.
In addition to all these signs, too much solar radiation, by damaging the DNA of our skin cells, tells our cells how to function. If enough DNA damage builds up over time, it can cause cells to start growing out of control, which can lead to skin cancer.
How to protect our skin
What can we do to prevent photoaging? Although we cannot go back in time, there are ways to preserve the youth of the skin.
- Use photoprotector: It is an excellent remedy to prevent cell and DNA damage to the skin because it protects it against UV rays. It is recommended to apply a high-spectrum sunscreen every day on the most exposed areas, such as the face and neck.
- Avoid sun exposure between 12 noon and 4 p.m.: during these hours the sun is stronger and its effects too.
- protect face: wear a sun hat and stay in the shade.
Carry one healthy nutrition: if the skin is already damaged, we can help it with the intake of foods that contain vitamin C and E and antioxidants, which help delay the damage caused to collagen and its fibers in the skin.
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