Photoaging: Classifications, Causes, Symptoms, Treatments


What is Photoaging?

According to, skin ages because of a variety of reasons, some of which we have no control over. We do have control over how much time we spend in the sun. Photoaging is a term used to describe the change your skin goes through when it has been exposed to severe UVA and UVB. It is also called Dermatoheliosis. The cells in the dermis produce melanin and epidermis in larger quantities when UVR hits the skin. This is how a tan forms. In this instance, your skin is attempting to block the radiation. Sun burn is typically caused by UVB rays.

Classifications of Photoaging

According to Glogau, there are four classifications of Photoaging:

  • Group 1: This classification is mild and typically effects people between the ages of 28 and 35. Wrinkles do not form during this stage. Patients see mild pigment changes and minimal wrinkles.
  • Group 2: Classification 2 is moderate and usually effects people between the ages of 35 and 40. Patients may present with age spots, early signs of parallel smile lines and may need to wear foundation to cover facial changes.
  • Group 3: This stage is advanced and effects people between the ages of 50 and 65. Patients see obvious signs of discoloration, visible capillaries, and visible keratosis and may need to wear heavier foundation.
  • Group 4: Group 4 is classified as severe and effects people between the ages of 60 and 75. Patients see yellow-gray skin color and wrinkles throughout. Makeup cakes and cracks.

What are the Causes of Photoaging?

Photoaging is caused by prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation over a person’s lifetime. These changes typically occur as we age, but are accelerated with sun exposure. Fair-skinned individuals don’t tan very easily, tend to burn and are at a greater risk for Photoaging. Smokers experience an accelerated photoaging process. Photoaging causes skin changes, such as fine or deep wrinkles (due to the elastic tissue breaking down this is called elastosis), irregular pigmentation, rough skin texture, broken or dialated capillaries (telangiectasis), decreased* number of Langerhan’s cells (found in the layer in between the epidermis and the dermis) and areas of actinic keratosis (small, red, rough and sometimes scaly spots on the skin, which are precancerous).

Common Symptoms of Photoaging

Symptoms of photoaging vary from person to person. It is a sign of premature aging in areas that have been exposed to the damaging UV rays of the sun for prolonged periods of time. Patients typically notice deep, course wrinkles, discoloration (lightning or darkening of the skin), solar lentigo (age/liver spots), dryness, telangiectasia (dilated or broken blood vessels close to the skin surface), atrophy, leathery appearance, elastosis and actinic purpura.

What are the Treatments of Photoaging?

Most photoaging treatments are meant to increase* firmness and elasticity of photoaged skin. Topical retinoids containing vitamin A are sometimes used to reduce* photoaged wrinkles. Topical fluorouracil is also used. Topical alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) may help reduce* wrinkles. Topical creams containing antioxidants are also used in treatment. Cosmetic procedures are also a possibility. Botox is a popular treatment for photoaging. Here are some other cosmetic surgical procedures often used to treat* photoaging:

  • Intense puled light (IPL)
  • 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA) and pulsed-dye laser
  • Chemical peels

Expert Opinion

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, excessive sun exposure early on in life generally makes a person look older than they are. Premature wrinkling and skin damage is referred to as photoaging. It is different than natural aging, resulting in coarse, dry skin, freckling and skin discoloration, leathery skin and deep wrinkles.

What is the Protection Against Wrinkles from Photoaging?

There are several things you can do to avoid photoaging. The main thing is to avoid prolonged sun exposure, particularly in the midday sun. You can also help fend photoaging off by wearing protective clothing, such as hats, sunglasses, long-sleeved shirts and so forth. You should also be using sunscreen. Reapply every two hours. Remember, prevention is the key. Once photoaging has started, it’s hard to reverse and in many cases, it is impossible to reverse. Once photoaging has started, you can utilize skin rejuvenation treatments.

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Contributor : Linda Daniels (Consumer Health Digest)

Linda Daniels is a true creative force, having worked as a seasoned writer, editor and consultant in the fashion and beauty industries. Connect with Linda on Facebook for constant updates to her projects.

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