Treating Sun-Damaged Skin

HealthEducationCosmetic ProceduresUniversity of Virginia

Too much fun in the sun without sun protection results in photoaging--premature and excessive lines, wrinkles and age spots that make you look older than your actual age. Here are some treatments that can help rejuvenate dry, leathery skin and fade freckling, age spots, discolored blotches, fine lines and deep wrinkles.

Non-Surgical Treatments


  • Botox (botulinum toxin type A) injections immobilize muscles to relax and soften existing wrinkles.

  • Chemical peels reduce the signs of sun-damaged skin and discoloration by removing the top layer of skin with a chemical application. When the skin regenerates, the skin's appearance often improves.

  • Collagen injections replace the body's natural collagen that's been lost and improve wrinkles, scars and lines.

  • Dermabrasion reduces the signs of small scars and minor skin surface irregularities by removing top layers of skin with a machine that abrades the skin. The new skin growth looks smoother and fresher.

  • Microdermabrasion, a milder form of dermabrasion, also removes top layers of skin and stimulates new skin growth. It works best on mild to moderate skin damage. Several treatments may be needed.

  • Tazarotene, a retinoid product, is a comparatively new topical cream that significantly reverses the effects of photoaging, according to Skin Care Guide.

  • Tretinoin is a prescription topical cream that can reduce wrinkles, and rough or discolored skin.

Surgical Treatments

Laser Skin Resurfacing reduces wrinkles and fine scars without damaging the top skin layers.

Non-Ablative Resurfacing is a type of laser treatment, which uses a laser as well as electrical energy without damaging the top layers of skin.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Therapy is another form of non-ablative, high-intensity light therapy.

Over-the-Counter Treatments

For mild sun damage you can try non-prescription creams or lotions that contain any combination of the following ingredients, mentioned on the Burn Survivors Throughout the World, Inc. Web site.

Retinol (Vitamin A) produces softer skin and reduces the appearance of fine lines.

Copper/Copper Peptides improve the skin's elasticity and strength.

Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) produce a smoother, healthier skin tone.

Antioxidants (Vitamin C and E) help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and skin discoloration and enhance skin vitality.

Which Treatment is Right for You?

Your treatment will depend on the type and severity of your photoaging symptoms, plus your age, overall health, medical history, and ability to tolerate certain medications or procedures, according to the University of Virginia Health System. See your dermatologist to discuss a treatment plan that will give you the best results.

For additional information visit the American Academy of Dermatology or the AARP.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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