An estimated 90% of skin aging is caused by the sun.Photoaging, or dermato heliosis, is a process by which chronic sun exposure on sun exposed areas causes premature aging of the skin. This process is most common in lighter skin types with blue or green eyes. Chronic sun exposure will result in wrinkles, discoloration, roughness, dryness, and laxity of the skin over time.
In addition, these cumulative, detrimental effects will also increase a patient’s risk for developing skin cancer.
The most important risk factor for developing non melanoma skin cancer is ultraviolet radiation from the sun and indoor tanning. In addition, roughly 86% of melanomas can be attributed to UV exposure from the sun.
The First Line of Defense Against Aging and Skin Cancer: Sunscreen
Broad spectrum sunscreen of at least sun protection factor 30 or higher is recommended. This has been shown in many studies to reduce the risk of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. Chemical and mineral sunscreens work welland, if tinted, will help to treat any hyperpigmentation. When looking for a chemical sunscreen, it is recommended to avoid the ingredient oxybenzone as this has been shown to cause allergic contact dermatitis.
Apply sunscreen generously and evenly and then reapply every 2 hours or after sweating or swimming. Add in sun protective clothing and seek out shaded areas for recreation as well.
Be mindful with car windshields and side windows as UVA rays will penetrate directly through the glass. Sun protection is recommended in the car as well if you want to keep your skin looking youthful.
A Popular Go-To for Many Skin Concerns: Tretinoin (Retinol)
The most popular product in dermatology and the GOAT of skincare is Tretinoin or topical Vitamin A.Tretinoin is retinol in its most active form. There are many different formulations of this product with over-the-counter preparations as well as prescriptions given in the dermatology clinic.
The upside: Tretinoin treats hyperpigmentation, builds and organizes collagen, improves skin texture, minimizes UV damage and actinic keratosis, increases the thickness of the skin, and treats acne. Tretinoin is effective and one of the best studied therapies in dermatology.
The downside:Tretinoin can be irritating to those with sensitive skin and CANNOT be used during pregnancy.
Retinols are best applied at night, using a pea sized amount to cover the entire face after cleansing and followed with moisturization to minimize dryness. If you are just beginning with Retinols, my recommended use is every third night followed with moisturization to minimize dryness and irritation. You will be able to increase the frequency of the retinoid as your skin acclimates to regular use.
Antioxidants: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Ferulic Acid
Skin cancer and photoaging results from UV induced oxidative stress. Topical antioxidants will protect the skin from oxidative stress. CE Ferulic is effective for reducing thymine dimer mutation known to be associated with skin cancer. This product will also treat hyperpigmentation, brighten the skin, and build collagen.
Apply this product in the morning after washing and prior to sunscreen application.
My Favorite Topical Treatments for Photoaging
Clara UV Luxe+ is a great sunscreen with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide for physical blockade of UV rays. In addition, iron oxides help to treat hyperpigmentation and CE ferulic helps with antioxidant protection.
Another favorite is Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46. This product is formulated with zinc oxide, titanium dioxide and niacinamide. This is great for sensitive skin, acne prone skin, and treating hyperpigmentation.
My personal favorite topical vitamin A is Clara Retinol 5. This lightweight 0.5% formula is great for use at night. Benefits include building collagen, minimizing fine lines and wrinkles, increasing dermal density, treating hyper pigmentation, minimizing UV damage, and treating acne.
Discuss Topical Therapies for Photoaging with a Skin Specialists
If you would like to discuss your unique skin concerns with one of our trusted dermatology providers, call us at (719)-355-1585 or fill out our online appointment request form.
Daniella DePeri, PA-C is an experienced dermatology physician assistant. She practices out of Vanguard’s Briargate and Pueblo offices. She specializes in skin cancer screening, skin care counseling, and medical dermatology.