Australians love to be out in the sun, outdoor recreation is a national pastime and passion, but it's quite easy to get too much of a good thing! Millions of people are annually affected by photoaging from overexposure to A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation that causes the skin to age prematurely! Photoaging is also referred to as dermatoheliosis, sun damage, photodamage, and solar damage, and can be caused by too much sun, tanning beds, and any kind of UV lighting one is exposed to.

Photoaging can cause a variety of unsightly, and perhaps even dangerous skin conditions like melasma, poikiloderma, white sun spots, and actinic keratosis. Once overexposure to UV radiation damages your skin cells' DNA it can’t be reversed, but that doesn’t mean you simply have to live with it! There are treatments like microneedling that can restore your skin's natural colour, tone, and quality by stimulating the production of collagen, thus reducing the amount of discolouration, spots, wrinkling, and fine lines.

While everyone can experience skin damage from sun exposure, some people are at greater risk if they have some or all of the following traits:
  • Have a large number of skin moles.
  • Have a fair complexion.
  • Have blue or green coloured eyes.
  • Have red, blond, or light brown hair.
  • Have previously suffered from skin cancer, or have a family history of skin cancer, in particular melanoma.
  • Have freckles.
  • Frequently experience a sunburn before tanning.
  • Experience a lot of sun exposure over the weekends while being mostly indoors on weekdays.
  • Spend a great deal of time outdoors and/or frequently use tanning salons, especially when they were children or teenagers.
  • Are living or taking holidays at high altitudes.

There are also a number of health conditions that can increase your chances of experiencing photoaging. You may face greater risk of skin damage if you:
  • Have undergone an organ transplant.
  • Suffer from autoimmune diseases like HIV, systemic lupus erythematosus, or any other conditions that weaken your immune system.
  • Are taking medications like monoclonal antibodies, corticosteroids, calcineurin inhibitors, and biologics that are known to have a deleterious effect on your immune system. These are medications used to treat a wide variety of health conditions such as psoriasis, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and asthma.
  • Are taking medications that increase your skin's sensitivity to sunlight, like tricyclic antibiotics, oral contraceptives, tetracycline and fluoroquinolone antibiotics, antifungal agents and cholesterol-lowering drugs to mention just a few. It's important to ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist if any of your medications will have the side effect of increasing your skin's sensitivity to sunlight.

Preventing photoaging completely is difficult because it is the result of cumulative sun exposure damage accrued over the entire course of your life. A certain amount of sun is very healthy for you, but overexposure to the sun's UV radiation can cause photoaging. Always make sure to wear sunscreen, sun hats, and to avoid spending time outdoors under the midday sun, unless you are a mad dog or an Englishman.