The sun’s rays can take a toll on the skin. Short-term effects may include dealing with a sunburn, but long-term consequences can also lurk within the skin, even if you don’t experience a burn. The sun prematurely ages the skin and can cause extensive damage to the surface of the skin. Commonly referred to as photoaging, sun damage can also lead to skin cancer, or melanoma, and the visible appearance of photodamage, or color photodamage.

Protect your skin from harm with the help of a Gainesville dermatologist with Gainesville Dermatology & Skin Surgery. We offer an extensive range of dermatologist skin care and treatments designed to help skin look beautiful and feel healthy.

Contact us today to schedule a dermatologist appointment.

What Is Photodamage?

Dermatologists refer to damage the sun causes to the skin by several names, including photodamage, solar damage, and sun damage. Photodamage is a skin condition that occurs when ultraviolet (UV) light hits skin that is unprotected by sunscreen or sun-protective clothing, causing DNA changes at a cellular level. Photodamage occurs within the deepest layers of skin, meaning it can take years before the damage surfaces and becomes visible to the naked eye. Among the three categories of photodamage, color photodamage is characterized as photodamage that produces discoloration of the skin visible to the naked eye. Color photodamage can affect a small area of sun-exposed skin, or it may affect large sections of skin, typically on the face, but it may occur anywhere on the body.

What Are The Signs Of Photoaging?

Unlike normal, chronological aging, which is typically dictated by age and genetics, among other factors, color photodamage and the resulting photoaging occurs when UV light from the sun and tanning beds permanently damages the structure of the skin. To view the differences between chronological aging and photoaging, our dermatologists recommend comparing skin on an area of your body that is not exposed to the sun with the skin on your face or another area of skin commonly exposed to UV light. Signs of photodamage can become visible in teens to young adults. Symptoms and signs of photodamage include the following.

  • Broken capillaries (spider veins)
  • Pigmentation changes
  • Age spots, liver spots, and freckles
  • Wrinkling of the skin
  • Loss of skin elasticity
  • Rough, uneven skin texture
  • Redness and blotchiness
  • Precancerous skin conditions

What Causes Photoaging?

In terms of what causes sun-damaged skin on face and body areas commonly exposed to UV light, dermatologists note that ultraviolet radiation causes DNA changes in the skin, leading to premature skin aging, visible skin damage, and skin cancer. There are two types of UV light — UVA light and UVB light.

UVA Light

Ultraviolet A light is a form of solar radiation that damages skin at all levels, from deep down into the dermis to the uppermost layer of skin (epidermis). Within these layers of skin, several building blocks of skin are affected by UVA light, including collagen and elastin fibers, which act as integral, naturally occurring proteins that give skin youthful elasticity and plumpness, in addition to epidermal cells and capillaries, or tiny blood vessels.

UVB Light

Ultraviolet B light is a type of solar radiation that irradiates the outer layer of skin, or the epidermis.  UVB light damages DNA more severely than UVA light in the epidermis and, as a result, causes color photodamage, photoaging, and precancerous cells to form. The effects of UVB rays are often delayed, producing tanning and burning effects on the skin hours following sun exposure and more significant effects thereafter.

Can Sun Damage Be Reversed?

Photodamage cannot be removed from the skin thoroughly. However, the following treatments often help minimize the appearance of color photodamage, among additional effects of UV exposure to skin. Contact our office today to learn more about our available photoaging treatments and to schedule an appointment with a dermatologist in Gainesville.


During laser treatment for sun damage, such as with the Fraxel® laser, fractional resurfacing uses laser energy to rejuvenate the skin and minimize the appearance of photodamage, including brown spots and fine lines. Lasers can also improve the texture and appearance of enlarged pores. Pulsed-dye lasers can remove broken blood vessels and redness resulting from accumulated sun exposure.

Chemical Peels

Dermatologists use chemical peels with chemical substances such as glycolic acid or trichloroacetic acid to remove brown spots and precancerous skin lesions like actinic keratoses, while likewise improving the tone and texture of photodamaged and photoaging skin. VI Peel® is a chemical face peel designed to help reverse visible signs of aging caused by color photodamage on the face, neck, chest, arms, legs, and back.

Skin Treatments

Topical medications or sun damaged skin treatment creams containing medical-grade ingredients can help remove signs of color photodamage from sun-exposed skin. SilkPeel Dermalinfusion® is a professional-strength skin treatment that addresses fine lines, wrinkles, sallow skin, hyperpigmentation, dryness, and dehydration. Deep dermal exfoliation and rejuvenation from these treatments also help prevent blemishes on rough skin.


Professional microneedling treatments, such as with SkinPen® can be used to achieve visible improvements to skin damaged by UVA and UVB rays and the treatment of fine lines, acne scars, and improvement of the skin’s texture, tone, and color. Microneedling produces controlled, microscopic injuries to the skin, resulting in collagen and elastin and the breakdown of uneven pigmentations.

Photodynamic Therapy

This treatment helps remove precancerous skin lesions that may result from regular sun exposure. During photodynamic therapy, the dermatologist applies topical medication to the skin and proceeds to use a blue or red fluorescent light to activate the medication. This destroys precancerous cells while preserving normal cells.

Who Is Susceptible To Photoaging?

Everyone is susceptible to color photodamage and its effects of photoaging. However, how much photodamage a person sustains depends on how much unprotected sun exposure they have over time and their skin type and geographic location. Typically, lighter skin is more susceptible to photoaging and skin cancer. Darker skin can also become photodamaged and develop skin cancer, but it is more likely to develop melasma, uneven dark skin patches. Dermatologists use the Fitzpatrick’s Scale to determine skin color and assess a patient’s risk of sustaining all types of photodamage.

  • Type I. Pale skin and light-colored eyes with blond or red hair. This type always burns and does not tan.
  • Type II. This type accompanies fair skin with light-colored eyes, and it usually burns easily but may also tan.
  • Type III. The third type of skin is characterized as medium-light skin that burns before tanning.
  • Type IV. This type is light brown. It usually tans when exposed to sunlight with minimal burning.
  • Type V. The fifth type is characterized by a medium-brown skin color that rarely burns when exposed to UV rays.
  • Type VI. This type includes dark brown or black skin that tans easily and never burns.

How To Prevent Photoaging

Our dermatologists know that it’s never too late to practice effective sun protection to prevent future photodamage from occurring. While photodamage of some, minor degree is inevitable, the development of moderate-to-severe photodamage of all types can be prevented by practicing the following tips. For additional tips on protecting your skin from the sun, contact Gainesville Dermatology & Skin Surgery today.

  • Use broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 35 or more
  • Wear sun-protective clothing, such as UPF clothing
  • Avoid tanning beds and outdoor tanning
  • Stay out of the sun during peak hours
  • Wear eye protection and a wide-brimmed hat