Several skin conditions tend to affect adults more often than children, and exposure to the sun makes some skin problems worse. While some of these conditions are common, others are rare. In addition to the tendency to strike adults rather than children, the three skin problems described below worsen with exposure to the sun.
Rosacea is a common skin condition that primarily affects adults. A chronic inflammatory condition, rosacea causes facial redness and tends to appear in phases. In most patients, it is cyclic, with flare-ups lasting a few weeks or months at a time.
In the pre-rosacea phase, the skin tends to blush or flush easily. This tendency progresses to a persistent facial redness, especially around the nose. This is due to the dilation of blood vessels close to the skin’s surface.
The next phase is vascular rosacea, also known as telangiectasia. In this phase, the small blood vessels on the nose and cheeks swell and become visible. The skin may be very sensitive, and oily skin and dandruff may be present.
The third phase is inflammatory rosacea. In this phase, small red bumps or pustules appear and spread across the cheeks, chin, forehead, and nose.
Approximately half of rosacea sufferers also develop ocular rosacea. Patients whose condition progresses to ocular rosacea feel a burning, gritty sensation in their eyes.
Rosacea probably develops due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. People who are between 30 and 60 years old, have fair skin, blush or flush easily, or have a family history of rosacea are at greater risk of developing the condition. There is no lab test for rosacea; a dermatologist must visually make the diagnosis.
Because rosacea tends to worsen over time, it’s important to begin treatment as soon as possible. Treatments include oral antibiotics, topical medications, or a combination.
If you have rosacea, there are some things you should do to keep the condition from becoming worse. When you’re going to be exposed to the sun, wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. In the winter, wear a scarf or ski mask to protect your face. Use a gentle facial cleanser, and avoid products containing irritants such as alcohol. Keep in mind that spicy foods, alcoholic beverages, hot drinks, sunlight, hot flashes, some skincare products, and many other products and activities can make the condition worse.
Many adults develop age spots, also known as liver spots and solar lengitines. These flat spots are gray, brown, or black. They normally appear on the face, hands, shoulders, and arms, which receive the most sun exposure. They can be as small as a freckle or much larger.
Treatment isn’t necessary, but many people prefer to treat age spots for cosmetic reasons. Treatment options include laser therapy, cryotherapy, dermabrasion, chemical peel and prescription bleaching creams. If you opt for an over-the-counter treatment, make sure it contains hydroquinone, deoxyarbutin, glycolic acid, or kojic acid. Natural remedies may also help.
Age spots generally develop over time due to sun exposure and are most common in people over the age of 40. However, they can develop at any time, regardless of your age. You’re more likely to get age spots if you have fair skin and a history of sunburn. Your doctor can probably diagnose the spots with a visual inspection, but a skin biopsy is also possible.
The best way to prevent age spots is to minimize exposure to the sun’s harmful rays. Always use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15, reapply as directed, and wear protective clothing.
Epidermolysis Bullosa Acquisita (EBA)
Epidermolysis Bullosa Acquisita (EBA) is a rare autoimmune blistering disease seen mostly in middle-aged and elderly adults. Although other types of epidermolysis bullosa are genetic, EBA is not.
Patients suffering from EBA find that blisters form on the skin in response to friction, heat, or injury. These blisters usually appear on the buttocks, elbows, knees, pelvis, and scalp, and they can be quite large. They may itch.
Only a biopsy can confirm a diagnosis of EBA, and there is no cure. Prednisone and azathioprine are common prescription treatments for this condition. In some cases, the dermatologist will prescribe a painkiller. In addition to the oral drugs, the affected sites should be drained, treated, and bandaged daily.
Those afflicted with EBA should avoid unprotected exposure to the sun. Indoors, setting the thermostat for a moderate temperature can help, as heat can cause blisters to form. Wearing soft clothing that won’t irritate the skin or existing blisters is helpful. Due to the risk of infection, it’s important not to touch the blisters if your hands are not sterile, and you should never scratch.
Epidermolysis Bullosa Acquisita