With the cooler months upon us, it can be tempting to rug up in our North Queensland-style winter woollies and ignore the sun damaged skin that hides beneath. But while you may not be seeing your sun damage right now, it is still there and now is the perfect time to reverse some of the affects of sunny Summer days gone by.

Sun damage is a major precursor to skin cancer and with a staggering 75 per cent of Townsville residents developing skin cancer, it makes sense to do everything you can to avoid becoming a statistic.

What does sun damaged skin look like?

Pre-cancerous sun spots appear as scaly raised skin spots. Although you can scratch off the scale – often revealing a pink or red flat spot underneath – this will start to grow back in a matter of days.  

Visible sun damage can appear red and scaly. The above image shows sun damaged skin before, immediately after and one month following PDT treatment.

Why treat sun damaged skin?

The presence of scaly, sun damaged skin significantly increases your likelihood of developing skin cancer in the same area. This is because your skin’s natural healing properties have already been compromised, and are therefore less effective at fighting off more malicious attacks. Treating sun damage helps to recharge your skin’s defenses and ward off skin cancer.

Furthermore, many people can feel self-conscious about the scaly appearance of their sun damaged skin, so treatment that removes that roughness may give you a welcome confidence boost.

What are the treatment options for sun damaged skin?

While liquid nitrogen can be used to freeze a single, isolated sun spot, research has found ‘field treatments’, which cover a larger area of sun damaged skin, are much more effective.

Popular treatments include topical creams such as Efudix or Aldara or a treatment called Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) , which combines a medicated cream with specilaised light therapy to destroy precancerous cells.

Your treating doctor will be able to discuss your treatment options in more detail and help you to weigh up the pros and cons of each.

How can I supercharge the reversal of sun damage?

You may be excited to hear that there are small things you can do every day to aid the effectiveness of your chosen sun damage treatment.

Taking 500mg of vitamin B3 morning and night can reduce visible sun damage by up to 11%; while the daily use of sunscreen can reduce visible sun damage by approximately 50% over 12 months.

Of course, prevention is always better than cure so it is important to limit your sun exposure by using sunscreen, wearing hats and clothing that keep you covered, and avoiding unnecessary time in the sun. Doing this will help your existing sun damage to heal, while also limiting the chances of further damage in the future.

If you’d like to begin reversing your visible sun damage during these cooler months, we would love to have you visit us at Skin Repair Skin Cancer Clinic.