Sun damage and its consequence, premature skin aging, present a variety of symptoms:

  • Fine and coarse wrinkles
  • Roughness
  • Dry, scaly skin
  • Laxity or looseness of skin
  • Patchy or mottled darker patches of increased pigmentation
  • A leathery texture around the back of the neck and coarseness with deep lines
  • Thickened layer in the upper dermis known as solar elastosis (chicken skin)
  • Lower immunity against infection
  • Aging skin disorders
  • Cancer

Looking Deeper

As you age, your skin cells divide more slowly and the dermis thins. Fat cells underneath the dermis begin to atrophy, or grow smaller. The underlying network of elastin and collagen fibres, which provides the building blocks for the surface layers, loosens and unravels. The skin loses its elasticity and, when pressed, no longer springs back to its initial position; instead, it sags and forms furrows or wrinkle lines. The skin’s ability to hold moisture also diminishes. The sweat and oil-secreting glands atrophy, depriving the skin of their protective water-lipid emulsions, so that the skin becomes dry and scaly. The ability of the skin to repair itself also diminishes with aging, so wounds are slower to heal. Frown lines (between the eyebrows) and crow’s feet (lines radiating from the corners of the eyes) appear as a result of ongoing small muscle contractions. Characteristic facial expressions also form lines, helping create jowls and drooping eyelids.

Sunburn symptoms include:

  • Pink or red colour on the skin
  • Tender-feeling skin
  • Itchy blisters
  • Pain and irritation in the eye from overexposure to UV rays
  • Dehydration or fever in severe cases

Actinic keratosis typically appears as barely visible spots or as thick, scaly and sometimes crusty patches of skin. Some AK spots can look like regular skin, but feel like sandpaper. Other symptoms may include:

  • Visible spots that may range between a few millimetres up to 2 cm or more in diameter
  • Skin discoloration, which may include dark, light, pink or red colours

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