Sun Damage In The Fall

fall_sunYes, it’s fall now, and not only does the sun not appear stronger, but the days are getting shorter too.  However, sun damage can be a problem even in this season.

For starters, as much as I hate to say this fact, tanning bed usage goes up during the fall and winter.  I’ve ranted about tanning beds in previous blog posts, so I won’t delve too far into why you should avoid tanning beds.

I’ll just restrict my anti-tanning bed comments to the following: Despite the good feelings one may have while sun bathing or lying in a tanning bed,  ultraviolet light is one of the worst influences on your skin with smoking being a close second.  We all know now (or should know) that UV light can cause skin cancer.

Even in spite of potential skin cancer, no matter how good you think you look with a tan, once the tan fades, the aging process on your skin has been accelerated in a phenomenon known as photoaging.  This is like Photoshop in reverse.

Despite the colder weather,  UV light is still present so your skin needs to be protected every day, especially on the face.  To prevent the development of more fine lines and wrinkles, not to mention brown spots and broken blood vessels, a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30 is needed which will block 95% of the damaging rays.

Although effects of sweating are obviously less in fall and winter, it is still a good idea to reapply sunscreen if you will be outside for more than a couple of hours.  That’s why the word “sunblock” is misleading: no sunscreen lasts forever in terms of protecting your skin from the sun.

ObagiIn addition, there are many products available to reduce effects of past sun damage.  The Obagi Nu-derm system is specifically beneficial to deal with sun related discolorations whether as age spots or as melasma which is more hormonally influenced.  The use of skin care products which help to even out the complexion also reduce the visual effects of aging skin.

Finally, once sun damage is present or is resistant to topical therapy, I have a number of laser weapons to target and treat damaged areas.  Broken capillaries can be collapsed by laser directed at individual or clusters of blood vessels.

More recently developed pigmented areas will initially darken and then flake or scale off.  Pigmentation that is darker or has been present the longest may require a number of treatments.

I often quote a colleague of mine from Boston who tells patients, “These areas didn’t come overnight. They won’t go away overnight although they will go away a lot faster than they came.”

teen_sunscreenAs with other skin issues that I have discussed with you in the past, prevention is always the key.  An ounce of sunscreen is worth a pound of treatment or something to that effect.

Maintenance is also another key with appropriate and sufficiently potent skin care products.  Unfortunately, most of the products heavily advertised and available over the counter in the drug stores and supermarket tend to be diluted and ineffective, and are therefore not worth using.

If spots, redness, other discolorations and even fine lines and wrinkles do occur, hope is not lost.  My staff and I can help restore a more youthful appearance and stop that older person from looking back at you in the mirror in the morning.  If you have any questions or want a free consultation for any of these issues, call (207) 873-2158 to talk to Becky or Denise.

About Dr. John Burke

John Burke M.D. has practiced medicine for over 25 years, and is the founding partner of MidMaine Internal Medicine. He established Maine Laser Skin Care in 2004 after devoting years to learning the latest in laser and dermatologic technology. Dr. Burke has treated patients from all over the United States. He is one of Maine's busiest practitioners in laser treatments, and in the use of Botox for upper facial lines and excessive sweating.
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