Premature aging is a term that is used to describe the process of aging at a faster rate than normal. This can happen for many reasons, but mostly because of stress and lifestyle choices.
Some signs that your body may be prematurely aging are:
- Low immunity
- Dry and wrinkly skin, with age spots
- Poor sleep quality
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Memory loss
Some external causes of premature aging are: exposure to toxins such as pesticides, industrial waste, and household cleaners, unhealthy lifestyle (smoking and alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, dehydration), but the main cause of premature aging is exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
The sun can cause damage to your skin in two ways: photoaging and actinic damage.
Photoaging is the result of chronic exposure to the sun, which causes wrinkles, age spots, and skin cancer. Actinic damage is caused by intense exposure to UV light, which leads to redness and burning. Photoaging happens over time while actinic damage happens instantaneously when you are exposed to intense UV light.
Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can lead to skin cancer, wrinkles, and age spots. UV rays are a type of radiation that penetrate deep into the skin and damages DNA. The body can repair these DNA mutations with time but if it is exposed to UV radiation too often or for too long, it will not have enough time to repair the damage. This leads to premature aging, which is why people who live in sunny areas tend to have more wrinkles and age spots than those who live in cloudy regions. The Swedish Association of Dermatology and Venereology recommends that people should avoid sun exposure between the hours of 10:00 am and 3:00 pm. The association also advises against exposing your skin to direct sunlight for longer than 20 minutes as it can increase the risk of premature aging.
The body has a natural defense against UV rays, called melanin, which protects from the sun’s harmful rays. When exposed to UV light, melanin will darken and provide a natural form of sunscreen. However, when this protective layer is depleted or damaged by too much time in the sun, it can lead to premature aging and an increased risk for skin cancer.
Many people think that the only way to reduce the risk of premature aging caused by sun damage is to avoid going outside when it’s sunny, but this isn’t enough. The most effective way to reduce the risk is by wearing sunscreen every day and reapplying it every two hours or after swimming or sweating. When a person is exposed to ultraviolet radiation, the skin produces chemicals known as free radicals. When these free radicals are produced by the skin, they cause damage to the cells and promote premature aging.
But, there are many other things you can do as well. The following are the most effective ways of sun exposure prevention:
- Stay in the shade (when possible).
- Wear protective clothing and hats.
- Use an umbrella or parasol when outdoors.
- Seek out shade during midday hours when UV rays are strongest.
- Avoid tanning beds.
- Apply sunscreen lotion with a high SPF every two hours or more often if sweating heavily or swimming. Avoid direct sunlight and stay in the shade.
There are many different types of sunscreen, but not all of them are created equally. The best sunscreens offer broad-spectrum protection, which means they protect against both UVA and UVB rays. They also have an SPF rating of 30 or higher and are water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.