Recently, there was an article and photo released that showed visual proof that the sun makes you age prematurely. The case was discovered and studied by Jennifer R.S. Fordon and Joaquin C. Brieva, Dermatologists at Northwestern University and published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Below is an explanation of what they found and what could eventually happen to anyone from un-protected over-exposure to sunlight.

A 69-year-old man presented with a 25-year history of gradual, asymptomatic thickening and wrinkling of the skin on the left side of his face. The physical examination showed hyperkeratosis with accentuated ridging, multiple open comedones, and areas of nodular elastosis. Histopathological analysis showed an accumulation of elastolytic material in the dermis and the formation of milia within the vellus hair follicles. Findings were consistent with the Favre–Racouchot syndrome of photodamaged skin, known as dermatoheliosis.

The patient reported that he had driven a delivery truck for 28 years. Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays transmit through window glass, penetrating the epidermis and upper layers of dermis. Chronic UVA exposure can result in thickening of the epidermis and stratum corneum, as well as destruction of elastic fibers. This photoaging effect of UVA is contrasted with photocarcinogenesis.

The doctors recommended that he begin to use skin protection, topical retinoids and participate in periodic monitoring for the development of skin cancer. 

What is Photo-Aging?

  • It is the damage that is done to the skin from prolonged exposure, over a person’s lifetime, to UV radiation. Skin changes that occur as we get older are accelerated by sun exposure. Signs of this damage are: 
  • Dark spots
  • Wrinkles
  • Droopy skin
  • Yellowish tint
  • Broken blood vessels
  • Leathery skin and
  • Skin cancer
How can we counter photo-aging?
  1. Avoid direct midday sun.
  2. Wear sunscreen!
  3. Cover-up with uv-protective clothing and a wide-brimmed hat.