Photoaging (Sun Damage)

This information is useful for children, adults, and older adults
woman cheek with liver spot causes by sun damage

Credit: Getty Images

The sun’s rays can take a toll on your skin. In the short-term, that can mean contending with a scorching sunburn. But, there can also be long-term consequences lurking within the skin, even if you don’t experience a burn. The sun prematurely ages the skin. Called photoaging, this can lead to skin cancer. 

Dermatologists refer to the damage the sun does to skin by several names, including photoaging, photodamage, solar damage, or sun damage. It happens when ultraviolet (UV) light hits skin unprotected by sunscreen, causing DNA changes at a cellular level. Because photodamage happens in the deepest layers of the skin—the dermis—it can take years before the damage surfaces and becomes visible. 

“I see many patients who have a lot sun damage,” says Kathleen Suozzi, MD, director of the aesthetics at Yale Medicine Dermatology. “They feel like their skin aged them, that they appear older than some of their peers, and they’re regretful of not being better with sun protection in their youth.”

At Yale Medicine Dermatology, our dermatologists and dermatologic surgeons can help address the aesthetic concerns you may have if your skin is showing signs of photoaging. These signs can include brown spots, wrinkles, broken capillaries, and uneven skin texture. Our dermatologists are also experts in using the latest minimally invasive techniques to remove skin cancer while minimizing scarring and can address sun-induced precancers that, if left untreated, are at risk for developing into skin cancer.