Photo aging causes and effects.

Photo aging is one of the primary reasons why our skin looses it's youthful appearance as we get older.

Why does it happen and how can we prevent it?

If you look at skin from the point of evolution, white skin was not really meant to tan. Originally, white people lived in Europe, in particular in Northern Europe.

If you have ever been to Europe (or live there), you will know that summers are short and usually not very hot (in Australia our winters are often warmer than Northern European summer).

Autumn, winter and spring take up 3/4 of the year and believe me, there is precious little sunlight and even less sunshine. There was no need to protect the skin from excess of sunlight, so nature disposed of all the pigment.

I lived in Europe over 20 years and truly, I do not recall ever getting badly sunburned, although as children we would play outside all day long without any sunscreen.

I remember ever having a little color at the end of summer. If I saw anybody tanned, I would be able to tell that they just came back from a holiday.

When tanning became fashionable, and travel more affordable, it all changed. People started traveling (and moving to) exotic places and getting tanned more often and deeper.

So, what happens to white skin when you expose it to sunlight?

First of all, it produces more melanin and starts tanning.

photo aging suntan
If built up gradually little bit of suntan looks nice. It makes us look like we are glowing with good health and contentment. Just as if we have just come back from great holidays in some nice place. However, don't be fooled. Even a little bit of color effects out skin, and the damage begins.....

photo aging sunburn

If you continue to sit in the sun without any protection, serious damage occurs. Your skin starts to burn. It will not look pretty in the evening, and it gets to be pretty painful.

skin damage sun blisters This is the next stage. This is very serious. You might even get some scars from a sunburn like that.

If you have ever done it, you will remember pain for ever. You will be in agony for a whole week. I have done it once, after coming back to Australia from Europe after many years away. I forgot that 1 hour in Australian sun is about as much as 1 week of sun baking in some parts of Europe.

photoaging sunburn

Now the blisters popped and this is the next stage. With something like that you could finish in hospital. There is a possibility of infection, scars and it will take weeks for the skin to repair itself.

You have seen how it all happens, now have a look what do effects of photo aging look like:

photo aging sun spots

Some effects of photo aging start very early. Sun spots, otherwise known as freckles can appear even on a skin of a child. If you are a readhead with peaches and cream skin, you are most likely to experience those effects.

photo aging wrinkles

The most widely recognized effect of photo aging. Everybody gets some wrinkles as we age, but if you spend a lot of time in the sun you will get them prematurely.

Photoaging effect - rosacea. Rosacea is otherwise known as broken capillaries. The very tiny veins under the skin dilate and give the effect of a net of tiny little threads.

One of the causes of rosacea is heat. The blood literally boils in the capillaries as a result of increased temperatures either in the sun or sun beds. Yuk!

Photoaging effect - sagging skin.

When the skin is exposed to high heat such as sunlight or solariums, elastin that holds the cells together breaks down and without this support the skin begins to wrinkle and sag.

The effect is irreversible and the only way of repairing it is with plastic surgery.

Photoaging effects - leathery skin.

The skin not only sags, but it also changes texture, becoming leathery.

The good news for the aging beach bunny is that it also becomes permanently tanned. (I am not sure if I would like to have a permanent tan at this price).

When so far advanced, nothing will reverse it, not even laser resurfacing.

Photo aging effect - skin cancer.

The most devastating result of photo aging. Skin cancer called melanoma.

Some people are more predisposed to getting it than others (usually very fair people more than the ones with darker skin shades).Sadly, you don't have to be very old to get it. Some teenagers and people in their 20s have died from it too.

Needless to say, if you die, it is also irriversible.

sun tanning effects cataract

I thought I would throw this one in as well. Not many people realize that cataracts are also an effect of sun exposure. So, WEAR SUNGLASSES!

Back to top of photo aging page.

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.