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Photoaging is another way of saying “sun damage.”

Photoaging is the process of premature aging of the skin caused by excessive exposure to light, usually ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Please note, however, that it can also be caused by artificial UV sources such as tanning beds.

While the natural aging process is influenced by time and genetics and is relatively unchangeable, photoaging can be avoided by practicing sensible sun protection behaviours.

While human skin has the capacity to heal itself if the damage is not severe, if the photoaging damage is too great the affected cells may either die completely or be mutated in the reparation process. Either way, the result is often premature aging in the form of actinic keratoses, pre-cancers or skin cancer.

Photoaging is often found on the face, neck and back of the hands. In women, the decollete (just beneath the neck) is another area where photoaging can be seen. Though generally presenting later in life, signs of photoaging can sometimes be seen in people as young as teenagers.

Prevention of photoaging should consist of “sun-smart” precautions and the avoidance of artificial tanning.