Following on from last month’s feature on sun care and sunscreen products, John Woodruff looks at ways of mitigating sun damage and of delaying the onset of visibly aged skin
The sun can make us feel good and look good but the cumulative effects of sun exposure causes cellular damage, early wrinkling, irregular pigmentation of the skin including solar lentigo or age spots, actinic keratoses and possibly skin cancer. Solar radiation makes skin look old and wrinkled before it should because over time the sun’s ultraviolet light damages the elastin and the skin begins to sag, stretch and lose its ability to snap back into place after stretching. Exactly what happens can be seen in further detail, with photographs about skin lesions and melanoma, in the slideshows on MedicineNet.
Uneven tone, lack of skin radiance and the appearance of wrinkles are the common signs of ageing and Rahn has grouped these into four stages. Group I is mild skin ageing with no wrinkles and smooth, even skin. Group II shows moderate skin ageing and wrinkles only appearing during animated facial expressions, while Group III is advanced skin ageing where wrinkles are also visible when the face is relaxed. Group IV is classed as severe skin ageing with the entire surface of the skin covered in wrinkles. Rahn has categorised wrinkles as atrophic causing fine lines, dynamic leading to expression lines, elastotic and actinic as wrinkles spread and deepen, and finally static due to gravity.
Atrophy or loss of tissue of the dermis increases with age as the skin becomes thinner and has less collagen and elastin fibres. Elastotic wrinkles are permanent and appear primarily on the face, neck and hands and actinic wrinkles become very deep with age, forming a typical pattern across the forehead and round the eyes and mouth and these may eventually join across the cheeks.