A woman wearinga blue sundress stretches as she walks along a beautiful, sun-soaked beach.

Restore and Revitalize Sun-Damaged Skin with IPL Treatments

With summer just behind us, you’re probably already missing the sun. After all, you’ve spent a lot of time outdoors taking in the sun and enjoying everything the summer had to offer. But too much sun exposure can cause issues for your skin—and we’re not just talking about sunburns.

Sun damage is gradual and cumulative, causing dull-looking skin, if not outright prematurely aged skin and other health risks. That’s why it’s so important to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging rays, especially in the summer.

Of course, even the most diligent sunscreen users can slip up or get caught off guard. If you’re noticing a change in your complexion beyond the perfect tan, or are already experiencing several signs of sun damage, there is a solution!

Intense-pulsed light treatments in Ottawa can help mitigate and repair the signs of sun damage, and are a safe and effective way to treat sun damage, along with age and brown spots, facial redness, rosacea, fine lines, and wrinkles.

How IPL Photofacials Can Help Treat Sun Damaged Skin

Sun damage can cause irregular discolouration of the skin, known as sun spots. These sun spots may appear brown, or red (from broken capillaries). The pulsed light will heat and destroy the blood vessels by causing them to coagulate and collapse.

IPL photofacials also remove damaged cells and stimulate collagen production as part of the body’s natural healing response. This results in new healthy cells replacing sun damaged cells, evening out and refreshing your skin’s appearance.

What Can Happen If Sun Damage Goes Untreated

The sun’s UV radiation can be very damaging to the skin. If left untreated, sun-damaged skin can result in:

Premature Aging

Sun damage can lead to long-term changes in the skin’s collagen—a structural protein. These changes can cause photoaging—the premature aging of the skin due to sun exposure.

With photoaging, the changes in collagen in the deep layer of skin—known as the dermis—will lead to fine lines and wrinkles.

Actinic Purpura

When UV radiation damages the structural collagen that supports the walls of the skin’s blood vessels, these blood vessels will become fragile. As a result, the blood vessels will be more likely to rupture and bleed, even from the slightest impact.

Risk of Malignant Melanoma

Repeated sun damage to the skin over time can lead to an increase in the risk for malignant melanoma and other types of skin cancer.

If you develop actinic keratosis—rough, scaly patches—this is a warning sign of an increased risk for skin cancer. Your doctor will do a biopsy of the actinic keratosis to rule out skin cancer.

Tips for Choosing A Sunscreen

Sunscreen lends a hand even when it’s not obviously sunny out. The goal isn’t to protect yourself from light, but rather the harmful UV rays that come along with it. That’s why it’s so important to know which sunscreen works best.

When choosing a sunscreen, make sure to use one with the following on the label:

Broad Spectrum Protection

Broad spectrum protection sunscreen will protect your skin against both UVA and UVB rays. While all sunscreens protect against UVB rays—the main cause of sunburns and skin cancers—not all protect against UVA rays. However, UVA rays also contribute to sun damaged skin, such as skin cancer and premature aging.

SPF 30 or Higher

The sun protection factor (SPF) of a sunscreen refers to the level of protection the sunscreen provides against UVB rays. The higher the number, the more protection you’ll have. But no sunscreen will block 100% of UVB rays, so you must take other precautions to protect your skin as well.

Here’s a comparison of the different levels of protection depending on the SPF number:

  • SPF 15 sunscreens filter out around 93% of UVB rays;
  • SPF 30 filters out around 97% of UVB rays;
  • SPF 50 filters out around 98% of UVB rays; and
  • SPF 100 filters out around 99% of UVB rays.

Water-Resistant Sunscreen

Water-resistant sunscreens will protect your skin for a specified amount of time while wet. But you should always reapply your sunscreen at least every two hours, and even more often if you are swimming or sweating. It will also likely rub off when you dry yourself with a towel, so remember to apply more afterwards.

How to Stay Safe In The Sun

There are many safety tips and precautions that will help you stay safe in the hot sun. Along with applying a water-resistant sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection and an SPF of 30 or higher before you go outdoors (and reapplying often), protect your skin from sun damage this summer with the following tips:

Cover Up

While sunscreen can protect your skin from most of the sun’s harmful rays, you can protect yourself even more with additional coverage.

  • Wear light-coloured clothing that will cover as much skin as possible while in the sun;
  • Wear a breathable, wide-brimmed hat to protect your head, neck, chest, and shoulders;
  • Wear sunglasses that block at least 99% of UVA and UVB light to protect your eyes; and,
  • Apply sun protection to your lips using a lip balm with SPF 20 or higher.

Stay in the Shade

Avoid spending time in the direct sunlight, especially during the sun’s peak time when UV rays are the strongest—between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Find shady areas when outside, such as under umbrellas, gazebos, awnings, partial roofs, and big trees. If you’re going to the beach, always bring an umbrella with you.

Avoid Tanning

While people might think that tanning beds are a safer way to get their summer tans, there is no safe way to tan. Both tanning beds and sun lamps can also cause long-term skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer.

Stay Cool & Hydrated

Sunny days that are hot and humid can lead to dehydration and heat illness. On these days, avoid spending too much time in the heat, stay cool, and drink plenty of cool liquids, especially water. If there is a heat warning in your area, limit your time out in the heat, and find a cool place to protect yourself.

Be Aware of Light Sensitivities

Some medications and skin care products can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, becoming more at risk of sun damage.

Talk to your doctor about any prescription medications you are taking and how they might affect your skin. Skin care products containing alpha-hydroxy acids also make your skin more vulnerable to sun damage.

It’s not hard to enjoy beautiful weather while keeping yourself protected from the sun. And consider treating your sun-damaged skin with IPL photofacials in Ottawa to generate new cell growth and improve your skin’s appearance.