After a long day at the beach or a summer filled with outdoor activities, your skin can obtain some sun damage. Sun damage can take the form of sunburn, wrinkles, dry skin, or hyperpigmentation, and it can lead to skin cancer.

The sun emits two kinds of rays, UVA rays (aging rays) and UVB rays (burning rays). Both can cause damage to your skin.

We always tell our patients that the best way to treat sun damage is to prevent it in the first place. To do this, we recommend choosing the right sunscreen (a physical sunscreen made with zinc and titanium with SPF 30 or greater) and using it daily. We also recommend using additional sun protection best practices such as wearing protective clothing, seeking shade, and scheduling outdoors time for when the sun's rays are not as direct (before 10:00am or after 4:00pm). 

But, we understand that, even if you think you're doing everything right, you can still receive sun damage during the summer months. This can happen for many reasons such as not using the right sunscreen or forgetting to reapply. The most obvious sign of sun damage is the pesky sunburn.

How to Treat Sunburn

Unfortunately, the best way to treat skin damage that comes from sunburn is by preventing it in the first place. Generally, once your skin is pink and painful, the damage has already been done to your skin, increasing your risk of premature aging and skin cancer.

However, you can certainly treat your pain or discomfort and take steps in starting to repair your skin after a sunburn. Immediately after you develop a sunburn, try to ease your pain with a cool bath or washcloth. Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin can also help ease the pain. 

There are also a number of topical sunburn lotions, creams, and gels which can be effective in reducing pain and stimulating skin repair. 

Some severe cases of sunburn or sun poisoning may require medical attention from a doctor. Seek medical help if your burn is excessively painful, scabs, or peels painfully. 

Although sunburn is a clear sign that your skin has been damaged by the sun, your skin can obtain damage even if you never get burnt. You can tell if your skin has received sun damage if you develop fine lines, pigmentation, or excessively dry skin near the end of summer or another period of time that you spend in the sun.

Reversing Sun Damage After Summer

Although there is not one completely effective treatment for reversing sun damage (remember, prevention is key), there are medical spa treatments, such as microdermabrasion or microneedling, that can aid in reducing the longterm damage to your skin. Our favorite sun damage-rewinding treatment is the medical, or chemical, peel. 

What Is a Medical Peel?

A medical peel is a treatment similar to a facial that is used to improve the tone and texture of your skin. During a medical peel, an esthetician applies a medical-grade solution that is customized to your skin's needs. The solution will remain on your skin for a few minutes before the esthetician removes it and applies a neutralizing solution. After a few days, your skin will harden and begin to peel, revealing the rejuvenated, fresh layer of healthy skin underneath.

Why Are Medical Peels Effective for Sun Damage?

Because medical peels essentially remove the damaged top layer of your skin, they are effective at reducing the long-term signs of sun damage such as wrinkles and age spots. Medical peels also stimulate your body's natural collagen and elastin production, catalyzing a natural healing process. 

Other Benefits of Peels

Beyond reversing sun damage, medical peels are also known for a number of other benefits. They are known to:

  • Rejuvenate and relax
  • Diminish acne scarring
  • Brighten complexion
  • Smooth rough skin
  • Prevent future acne breakouts
  • And more

Medical Peels at Helendale

Each September, Helendale Dermatology offers an event for medical peels because the fall is the best time for a medical peel. If you believe your skin has taken on more damage this summer than you would like, this event is for you.