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7 Types of Sun-Damaged Skin


You probably know that sun damage isn’t good for your skin. Chronic sun exposure can change the skin in several ways, causing permanent blemishes at best and skin cancer at worst.

Sunburn and peeling skin aren’t the only signs that you’ve spent too much time in the sun. In fact, your innocent freckles and dark spots on the skin may not be so innocent at all.

Sun damage can take many different forms, and it helps to recognize the most common types to keep your skin in top shape.

Here are several things you need to know about the many different types of sun damage:

  • Sun damage often becomes more evident as we age.
  • Many forms of sun damage can result in negative self-esteem caused by cosmetic concerns.
  • Wearing sunscreen daily and sticking to a regular skin care regimen is vital to preventing sun damage.

 1. Sunburn/ Suntan

Let’s start with the most common type of sun damage: sunburns and suntans. Make no mistake, even a temporary, attractive-looking tan is a clear sign that your skin has been negatively affected by the sun’s UV rays.

When the sun’s UV rays damage the skin, the body produces more melanin to protect itself against further sun damage. With each suntan or sunburn, you’re putting yourself at greater risk of developing skin cancer.


2. Freckles

You probably weren’t born with freckles, even if they do run in your family. In fact, freckles are small areas of hyperpigmented skin that occur only after repeated exposure to sunlight.

Freckles appear quickly in some children who are genetically predisposed to them. According to a 2004 study published in the Journal of Investigative Technology, freckles in children typically appear around the age of five (see claim: “Freckles first appear at about 5 y as light-brown pigmented macules on light-exposed skin.”)

While most freckles are nothing to be worried about, new freckles should be closely monitored for any changes. Additionally, you can prevent new freckles from popping up on your face by using a daily moisturizer with SPF.

3. Melasma

Melasma is a common skin condition that causes dark patches to appear on the skin. Although it’s more common in women, it can occur in guys as well.

Melasma is believed to be caused primarily by hormone fluctuations, but it can be a result of sun exposure, too. The sun’s UV rays can influence the cells which produce melanin (melanocytes), causing your melasma to worsen with chronic sun exposure.

4. Sunspots

Have you noticed what appear to be dark spots on your face, chest and hands? Sunspots, also known as age spots and liver spots, are noncancerous brown spots caused by our cells producing an abundance of melanin to combat UV damage.

back spots

They can be difficult to treat with home remedies, although, using an exfoliating scrub for men may improve their appearance. Similarly, exfoliating techniques such as dermabrasion and chemical peels have shown promise in treating sunspots. According to a 2007 study published in the European Journal of Dermatology, medium-grade peels were proven to be a more effective treatment solution for sunspots compared to other methods (see claim: “…treatment of the solar lentigines with a focal medium-depth chemical peel may be clinically superior…”)

5. Actinic Cheilitis

Most guys don’t realize that they can get sunburned on their lips as well. Known medically as actinic cheilitis, sunburn of the lips is especially common on the lower lip because it protrudes more than the upper lip.

The good news is that preventing actinic cheilitis is easy. By using a lip balm with SPF, you can protect your lips from sun damage while keeping them moisturized and supple.

Take the skin care quiz

6. Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer

Non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) refers to basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, two of the most common types of skin cancer. According to a 2012 review published in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery, basal cell carcinoma accounts for 75 percent of all non-melanoma skin cancers (see claim: “Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) accounts for 75% of cases of NMSC…”)

keratinizing squamous cell carcinoma

Non-melanomas develop after the cell’s DNA is damaged by the sun, causing it to grow abnormally. Although metastasis from either basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma is rare, all guys should get regular skin screenings to find and treat NMSC quickly.

7. Melanoma

When cumulative sun damage causes melanocytes to mutate, the result can be melanoma. The most deadly type of skin cancer, melanoma can spread quickly and often impacts men more than women.

The good news is that it’s less common than non-melanoma skin cancer. Even so, be on the lookout for moles with irregular borders, abnormal colors or quick changes.

Bottom Line

Protecting your skin from sun damage starts with your skin care routine. Wearing sunscreen every day is critical to protecting your skin from UV rays.

Along with daily sunscreen, don’t forget to take additional sun safety measures. Staying out of the sun during peak hours, wearing SPF clothing and seeking shade whenever possible will go a long way in keeping skin healthy and youthful.

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