What is Skin Damage?
Most people want flawless skin with complexions that are smooth, taut, and exude a dewy glow. Unfortunately, this is not always possible when your skins take a beating. Sometimes your appearance is affected by genetics, age, sun exposure, and unhealthy choices such as poor diet, too much alcohol, stress or harsh chemicals that can prematurely age you – making you look older! One of the biggest culprits responsible for skin damage is long-term exposure to the sun, and most sun damage occurs before the age of 20. The harmful effects of spending too much time in the sun is due to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and this type of sun damage is known as photoaging. It speeds up the rate of aging of the skin and increases the risk for developing skin cancer.
The most common signs of damaged skin include dry, scaly skin; skin with a yellow, leathery appearance; broken capillaries; fine, coarse wrinkles or pigmentation problems. Sun spots, also known as liver spots or age spots, are flat, brownish colored patches that appear on the body, often on the face, arms and hands. Although these spots are benign, they are extremely unattractive and often appear with wrinkles and rough skin.
Sometimes sun damaged skin becomes dry and wrinkled and develop into dry, scaly spots known as solar (actinic) keratoses. Some types of UV rays can cause various forms of skin cancer. The most common skin cancer known as non-melanoma includes squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma, and is less fatal. Malignant melanoma is fatal and has the highest percentage of skin cancer death, spreading quickly throughout the body.
What Causes Skin Damage?
There are many factors that may contribute to skin damage and these include:
- Sun exposure
- Cigarette smoke
- Irritants such as dust, harsh chemicals or skincare products
- Poor diet
- Exposure to cold weather
- Lack of exercise
- Excessive use of alcohol and drugs
- Facial expressions
Diagnosing Skin Damage
A diagnosis can be confirmed by a detailed examination of the skin area. If there are any abnormal changes occurring to your skin such as the sudden appearance of spots or pigmentation, skin lesions, painful or bleeding spots or premature wrinkles, your dermatologist may have to perform blood tests or a skin biopsy.
Help for Skin Damage
A wide variety of products and treatment options are available to reverse the signs of skin damage. Several skin care products such as creams, gels and lotions that contain anti-aging, anti-wrinkle, and complexion-improving ingredients can help to reduce fine lines and deep wrinkles, stimulates collagen, decrease hyperpigmentation, and improve skin softness and smoothness. Prescription medications such as Tretinoin and Tazarotene creams and gels are highly effective in reversing sun damage while Accutane is used to alleviate serious acne scarring.
Products that contain Retin-A can also treat a wide range of skin conditions such as acne, sun damage and aging, and rough texture and are available only by prescription through a dermatologist. Medical procedures such as chemical peels, skin fillers and laser surgery are techniques used to remove dead cells from the surface layer of the skin thereby stimulating the regenerative process to improve acne, irregular pigmentation or wrinkles. Some people may choose procedures such as Botulinum toxin (Botox) injections to help reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles while others may prefer plastic surgery to make cosmetic changes to certain areas of the face and body.
Natural and holistic treatments have been found to be extremely beneficial for maintaining problem-free and healthy skin. Treatments such as herbal and homeopathic remedies are a safe and gentle alternative without the harmful side effects of synthetic chemicals often found in over-the-counter products and prescription medication.
Herbs such as Galium aperine (Cleavers) and Trifolium pratense (red clover) act as a natural cleansing tonic and help to purify and detoxify the body’s system. Homeopathic ingredients such as Natrium muriaticum, Kalium muriaticum and Kalium sulphate keeps the skin well-hydrated, acts as a blood and lymph cleanser, and supports the natural healing and regenerative processes of the skin.