blog sun damage

Sun damage occurs when the sun’s UV light hits your skin, causing cellular damage. Over time, sun damage can accumulate, resulting in signs of sun-damaged skin, which include premature lines and wrinkles, dark spots, redness, and more. Taking proactive steps to treat and prevent sun damage is crucial for maintaining healthy and youthful-looking skin. In this guide, we explain effective strategies and treatment options for addressing sun damage and minimizing its impact on your skin’s health and appearance.

Signs of Sun Damage

Recognizing signs of sun damage early on can help you take proactive steps to protect your skin and seek appropriate treatment to minimize the damaging effects of sun damage on your skin. Some of the most common signs of sun damage include:

  • Hyperpigmentation. Dark spots, also known as hyperpigmentation, appear as dark patches or spots on the skin, often on areas exposed to the sun, such as the face, arms, and shoulders. They occur as a result of excess melanin production triggered by sun exposure.
  • Redness and irritation. Sun-damaged skin may appear red, inflamed, or irritated, especially after sun exposure.
  • Premature lines and wrinkles. Prolonged sun exposure can lead to the development of fine lines and wrinkles, particularly on the face, neck, and hands.
  • Dryness and uneven skin texture. Exposure to UV rays can deplete the skin’s moisture levels, leading to dryness, flakiness, and a rough texture.
  • Spider veins or broken capillaries. Sun exposure can weaken collagen and elastin fibers, causing vasodilation and inflammation, contributing to spider veins or broken capillaries. 
  • Precancerous growths like actinic keratosis. Also called solar keratosis, actinic keratosis presents as a patch or spot of rough, scaly skin caused by sun exposure. Actinic keratosis can sometimes become cancerous. 

Can Sun Damage Be Reversed?

While not all signs of sun damage can be completely reversed, many of these symptoms can be effectively treated. Proper sun damage treatment and prevention strategies are key to achieving and maintaining healthy, youthful-looking skin.

Topical Sun Damage Treatments

Many topical treatments can help to improve the appearance of dark spots, lines and wrinkles, rough skin texture, and other common signs of sun damage. Some of the best topical ingredients for treating sun-damaged skin include:

  • Retinoids stimulate collagen production and improve skin tone and texture.
  • Vitamin C serums have strong antioxidant properties and work to brighten dark spots and improve uneven skin tone.
  • Antioxidants like green tea extract, resveratrol, and others neutralize free radicals that can otherwise cause oxidative stress within the skin. 
  • Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) exfoliate the skin and promote cell turnover for a smoother, more even tone.
  • Niacinamide helps to reduce redness and inflammation while improving skin barrier function.

Laser Treatments

Laser and light treatments are highly effective treatment options for various signs of sun damage, including redness, broken capillaries, lines and wrinkles, and uneven skin tone and texture. The best laser or light treatment for you will depend on the specific type and severity of sun damage.

Broadband light (BBL) therapy is well-known for its capability to target redness, broken blood vessels, and dark spots caused by sun damage. By utilizing specific wavelengths of light, BBL therapy can precisely target pigmented lesions and vascular lesions, resulting in clearer and more even-toned skin. BBL treatments can also be combined with other laser treatments like Halo® for enhanced results. 

Laser resurfacing is another effective option for treating sun damage. This procedure involves removing the outer layer of skin, known as the epidermis, while simultaneously stimulating collagen production in the deeper layers of the skin. Laser resurfacing can treat a wide range of photoaging concerns, including lines and wrinkles, rough skin texture, dark spots, and scarring.

Erbium laser treatments like NanoLaserPeel™ are ideal for targeting deeper layers of the skin, making them effective for addressing more severe sun-induced skin concerns, such as deep wrinkles, scars, and uneven pigmentation. These lasers work by ablating the skin’s surface and stimulating collagen production, resulting in smoother, firmer, and more evenly-toned skin.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are a popular in-office treatment for sun-damaged skin and can improve skin tone, texture, and overall appearance. During a chemical peel, a solution containing various exfoliating ingredients, such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), or trichloroacetic acid (TCA), is applied to the skin to gently peel away the outer layer of dead skin cells while simultaneously stimulating cell turnover. This process helps to reduce the appearance of dark spots, fine lines, and uneven skin texture caused by sun damage.

There are different types of chemical peels, ranging from superficial to deep peels, depending on the depth of skin penetration and the desired level of skin rejuvenation. Superficial peels are gentler and target the outermost layer of the skin, while deep peels penetrate deeper into the dermis for more dramatic results. Our skincare experts will customize your peel to match your skin type and specific needs.


Microneedling, also known as collagen induction therapy, is another effective treatment for sun-damaged skin. This minimally invasive procedure involves using a device with small needles to create “micro channels” within the skin. This process stimulates the skin’s natural healing process, triggering collagen and elastin production, which helps to improve skin elasticity, texture, and firmness.

Microneedling is particularly beneficial for addressing fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and sun-induced skin damage. The tiny channels created by the microneedles also enhance the absorption and effectiveness of topical skincare products, allowing for deeper penetration and better results.

Preventing Sun Damage

Sun damage prevention is the single-best way to reduce the risk of skin cancer and maintain healthy-looking skin. Apply a minimum of SPF 15 daily, using a higher SPF when spending time outdoors. Do not forget to reapply at least every two hours when outside or after swimming or sweating. Seek shade as much as possible between peak sunlight hours, or wear sun-protective clothing designed to keep you cool while shielding your skin from the sun.

You can also help to protect your skin from the inside out with supplements such as Heliocare, which helps to boost your skin’s natural protection from the sun. Incorporating antioxidant-rich foods into your diet, such as fruits, vegetables, and green tea, can help to neutralize free radicals created by sun exposure. 

By combining external sun protection practices with internal skin-nourishing strategies, you can greatly minimize the effects of sun damage and maintain radiant, healthy skin.

Bottom Line

Sun damage is a common concern that can lead to various skin issues, including premature aging and an increased risk of skin cancer. However, with proper prevention and treatment strategies, you can effectively manage sun damage and maintain healthy, youthful-looking skin.

If you are struggling to manage signs of sun damage or are concerned about early signs of skin cancer, our team of skin experts at Feinstein Dermatology in Delray Beach would be happy to help design a customized treatment plan for your skin’s specific needs. Please call us at 561-692-6424, send a text  message to 561-816-3197, or easily request an appointment online.