Expert Tips on How to Treat and Prevent Sun Damage

By Dr. James C. Marotta

What are the signs of sun damage?

Sun damage has an acute and chronic phase. Acute sun damage or sunburn is particularly troublesome because it can have no warning signs at all. A half an hour of direct sun can result in a sunburn with redness or erythema of the skin that can occur several hours but even 24 hours after the injury. More prolonged sun exposure can lead to more severe acute sun damage like “sun poisoning” and “sun stroke” which are heralded by nausea, dehydration, dizziness, and blistering of the skin. Chronic sun damage results from accumulated sun exposure over years and can lead to brown spots, wrinkles, spider veins, skin growths and even skin cancer.

Other than wearing sunscreen, what can you do to prevent sun damage?

Use physical sunscreens like glasses, hats and clothing. Avoid the sun at its peak hours and limit sun exposure to 1/2 hour or less of unprotected exposure or 2 hours of protected sun.

What treatments are available to combat sun damage once it occurs?

A number of treatments exist to help reverse the signs of sun damage. Intense pulsed light can treat spider veins and brown spots. Light chemical peels can help reverse signs of mild sun damage. Laser treatments and deeper chemical peels can improve even the most severe signs of sun damage like wrinkles, brown spots and skin lesions. Minor skin surgery can remove unsightly skin growths. Of course, it is important to point out any lesions that have bled, crusted or changed in color, size or shape to your physician and to have a yearly dermatologic screening.

Dr. James C. Marottais a dual board certified cosmetic & facial plastic surgeon and owner of Marotta Facial Plastic Surgery in Long Island, New York ( He specializes in facial plastic surgery with particular expertise and interest in minimally invasive (endoscopic) facial plastic surgery and facial rejuvenation/anti-aging (surgical and non-surgical).He trained at Yale University in head and neck surgery and was consistently recognized as the top head and neck surgeon in the program.

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Jenny Williams
Jenny Williams

Thanks for the wonderful and informative post Dr. James C. Marotta. I would like to add that sun's harmful radiations can make your skin appear dull , dry and saggy. It is also responsible for wrinkles and crows feet around the eyes. A sun screeen can act as an anti aging lotion in your early 20's.