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Although sunlight is important for health and a nice tan always makes the skin look healthier and fresher, the exposure to sun can damage the skin, with its effects ranging from dryness, flaky skin, to discoloration, freckles and wrinkles. There are many treatments that aim to reduce the damage caused by exposure to sun, and they can be divided on over-the-counter and medical treatments.

Over-the-counter products

Many products for sun damage treatment can be found in drugstores and pharmacies and bought without prescription. Most of them are based on alpha-hydrohy acids, like lactic acid and glycolic acid. These acids help make the skin look smoother.

Also, preparations and formulations based on vitamin C are known to have some effect on repairing the damage caused by the sun.

These products work best if used for a longer period, preferably for several months. Since they make the dead skin cells layer to peel off, more ultraviolet light penetrates the skin. This is why it is important to always use sun block products.

For best results, these products should be used together with vitamin A formulations.


Trentinoin comes in form of creams and gels and it significantly smoothens the skin and reduces the effects of sun exposure. If used for longer period of time, for several months or even years, it can reduce wrinkles and fine lines.

Tazarotene is a fairly new product that is believed to be very beneficial for reducing the signs of sun damage to the skin. It is a retinoid, or a vitamin A product, and it has been used to treat psoriasis. It can also be used in acne treatment.


Chemical peel is a cosmetic procedure that is often used to reverse the effects of sun to the skin. In this procedure the upper layer of the skin is completely removed and the new layer grows healthier and nicer-looking. Peels can be superficial or they can go quite deep into the dermis. This procedure often includes glycolic acid use.

Deeper peels are not done so commonly as superficial ones, as they may lead to scarring and pigmentary changes.

Laser surgery is another option. In these procedures the laser is essentially used to vaporize the upper layer of the skin, allowing the regeneration of new layers. The problem with these types of procedures is a lengthy healing time which may last for 10 days or more, with significant redness and soreness of the skin.

The scientists are currently developing non-ablative laser surgery techniques for treatment of sun damage.

Finally, for repairing small and fine lines and wrinkles, skin fillers may be an option. Those fillers are usually collagen or hyaluronic acid. The effects of collagen fillers usually last from three to six months and the procedure is simple, although it may include some burning and stinging, as well as some redness and swelling immediately after the treatment.

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