Over time, skin ages and loses its youthful appearance. Wrinkles appear around the eyes, fine lines bloom around the lips, and age spots surface on the hands. While some of these factors are natural and unavoidable, many of them are a result of cumulative exposure to ultraviolet radiation.
Photo-aging is the superimposition of photo damage on intrinsically aged skin generally bringing about premature aging. This specific damage occurs by chronic (multiple) exposure of the skin to UV light.
Clinically, the skin becomes coarse; epidermis thickens (hyperplasia) initially and then thins (atrophy), there is laxity, sallowness with wrinkles, irregular hyperpigmentation, lentigines, and telangiectasias. The pores of the skin appear larger, filled with horny material. In severely damaged skin, there is loss of epidermal polarity (orderly maturation) and individual keratinocytes may show atypia, especially the lower epidermal layers. More profound changes occur in the dermis, where photodamage is characterized by degeneration of collagen and deposition of abnormal elastotic material, reflected by wrinkles, furrows, and yellow discoloration of the skin. The greater the photodamage, the more the accumulation of thickened, tangled and degraded elastic fibers.
Ways to Prevent Photo-aging
The best way to combat photo aging is through prevention.
- The No. 1 way people can prevent photoaging is wearing a 30-plus SPF sunscreen — one that contains zinc oxide — every day.
- Studies that have elucidated photo-aging pathophysiology have produced significant evidence that topical tretinoin (all-trans retinoic acid), the only agent approved so far for the treatment of photoaging, also works to prevent it.
- Studies from the University of Colorado Cancer Center show that silibinin, a milk thistle extract, protects against photo-aging induced by exposure to UV radiation. It does this by killing skin cells that have mutated due to UVA radiation exposure and by protecting skin cells against damage by UVB radiation. The researchers also noted that silibinin was completely non-toxic to healthy keratinocytes that had not been damaged by the UVA radiation. The silibinin killed only the cells that were mutated and might cause photo-aging. This is another example of nature’s miraculous way of distinguishing between cells that are safe and those that threaten health.
- Another effective and pleasurable way to maintain the health of your skin is through the use of skin masks targeted for specific benefits. Anti-aging mask containing Hyaluronic Acid is highly beneficial.
- Wear protective clothing like hats and shirts.
- Do not engage in unnecessary sun exposure, i.e. tanning beds or “laying out.”
- Stop Smoking
- Eat a healthy Diet. A Mediterranean diet that includes fish packed with inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids—as well as citrus, fresh herbs and veggies rife with polyphenols—may slash your melanoma risk in half, the International Journal of Epidemiology reports.
If more advanced methods are needed, a visit to the cosmetic dermatologist can offer safe and effective noninvasive options that will reduce photoaging with little downtime.