HomeHealth articlesmelasmaWhat Is Sun Protection, Aging, and Melasma?

Sun Protection, Aging, and Melasma

Verified dataVerified data

5 min read


Sun protection is an important factor that protects from aging and melasma (dark brown or gray patches on the skin), as the article below provides further details.

Written by

Dr. P. Saranya

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Basti Bharatesh Devendra

Published At January 13, 2023
Reviewed AtDecember 21, 2023


The sun's ultraviolet radiation contributes to aging and some skin conditions, including melasma. Photoaging refers to early skin aging brought on by persistent exposure to ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Melasma is a skin disorder that causes dark brown or blue-gray patches. Melasma develops by excessive production of the cells that produce the skin's pigment.

What Is Sun Protection?

Simply protecting one's body from the harmful effects of sunlight is known as sun protection. Aside from the risks associated with heat, the sun also poses the risk of sunburn, which can permanently harm the skin and result in skin cancer, precancerous changes, early wrinkles, and other aging symptoms. In addition, it is widely understood that exposure to the sun's UV rays increases the risk of melanoma (cancer of pigment-producing cells - melanocytes in the skin) and nonmelanoma skin cancers (cancers that develop in the upper layer of the skin).

What Are Skin Aging and Photoaging?

Similar to any other organ in the body, skin ages naturally over time. The natural aging process is the fundamental cause of creases, fine lines, and other aging skin symptoms. Photoaging occurs when the skin is exposed to UVA and UVB radiation regularly, which causes the skin to age prematurely. UV radiation from natural sources like the sun and artificial UV light can cause photodamage. UV exposure can hasten the skin's natural aging process and raise the risk of skin cancer.

What Is the Relation Between Ultraviolet Radiation and Skin Aging?

UVA and UVB are two forms of ultraviolet light that harm the skin. UVA rays penetrate deeply, passing through the epidermis (outermost layer of the skin) and into the dermis (middle layer). Damage from these rays can occur on all levels. They affect the cells, collagen, and elastin fibers that give the skin elasticity and firmness. The capillaries may also suffer damage. Only the top layer of the skin is affected by UVB rays, but they impact it hard. These rays have the potential to seriously harm the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) of the epidermis (outer layer), causing early aging and cancer.

How Do You Identify if the Skin Has Been Sun Damaged?

Skin damage and early aging symptoms can appear at any age. However, some individuals notice the symptoms in their teens or early 20s. Damage and early aging symptoms include:

  • The presence of age spots, liver spots, or freckles.

  • Having a rough, leathery texture.

  • Wrinkles, particularly near the eyes.

  • Skin elasticity loss.

  • Spider veins on the nose or chest area.

  • Skin with red blotches.

Comparing skin that has not been exposed to the sun with skin that has been can easily tell whether sun exposure has accelerated aging.

What Is Melasma?

Melasma is a common skin condition. The phrase roughly translates to "black spot." It appears blue-gray, dark brown, or light brown patches on the skin. They could resemble smooth patches or freckle-like spots. The face, particularly the cheekbones, upper lip, forehead, and forearms, are the frequently impacted areas. Pregnant women usually develop melasma. Melasma usually darkens and lightens over time; frequently, it gets worse in the summer and improves in the winter.

What Causes Melasma?

The most common cause is sunlight. The sun's rays stimulate the body to produce more melanin (pigment produced by melanocytes) when they touch the skin, which explains why melasma appears on skin exposed to the most sunlight, such as the skin on the arms, neck, and face.

Who Is Susceptible to Melasma?

Melasma is less common in those with lighter skin than those with darker brown skin or those who tan readily. Women are 90 % more likely to acquire melasma than men, who account for 10 % of all cases. Pregnant ladies experience melasma the most.

How Is Melasma Diagnosed?

The dermatologist performs a thorough physical examination. Examine all exposed skin, including the face, neck, ears, head, chest, back, arms, hands, legs, and feet. Minor anomalies are looked for utilizing the magnifying glasses.

What Are the Most Effective Techniques to Avoid Damage From Sunlight?

The following are the best strategies to avoid aging and melasma.

  • Limit the time in the sun, especially between 10 am and 3 pm, when it is most intense.

  • Wear safety gear, such as a hat with a wide brim, a blouse with arm-covering sleeves, and a long skirt or pair of long-legged pants.

  • To reduce the penetration of UV (ultraviolet) rays from the sun, use sunscreen.

  • If swimming or sweating a lot, use a water-resistant sunscreen.

What Is Sunscreen?

  • Any substance or material that shields the skin from UV rays qualifies as sunscreen.

  • Sunscreens in various forms are available, like topical lotion, cream, ointment, gel, or spray that are applied directly to the skin; a salve or stick is used to hydrate the lips; a moisturizer in wet wipes that are applied directly to the skin; eyewear that shields the eyes; specific types of clothing that provide sun protection; and film screens that can be attached to the windows of a car, room.

  • Numerous cosmetics and facial moisturizers also provide some level of UV protection.

What Does Sun Protection Factor or SPF Mean?

Sun-protection factor, or SPF for short, is a number that ranges from 15, 30, or 50 and describes how well sunscreens protect against sunburn. SPF is more closely related to the overall amount of sun exposure than just the duration of exposure. This is because the amount of sun exposure an individual gets depends on numerous factors rather than time spent in the sun. It is a common misconception that the duration of effectiveness of sunscreen can be determined by simply multiplying the SPF by the amount of time it takes for them to burn without sunscreen.

Are All Sunblocks Equally Effective at Blocking UV Rays?

No. Some sunscreens only block ultraviolet-B rays, one form of ultraviolet radiation (UVB). Others offer protection from ultraviolet-B and ultraviolet-A rays, which are emitted by the sun and enter the earth's atmosphere (UVA). Only 5 % of the UV light that hits the earth's surface is UVB rays. Sunburn, skin aging, skin cancer, and hyperpigmentation are all caused by UVB rays. The vast majority of UV rays that hit the earth are UVA rays (about 95 %). Although they are less strong than UVB rays, they are also known to hasten the aging and development of skin cancers. Therefore, everyone is advised to use broad-spectrum sunscreens, which offer UVA and UVB protection.

Which Components of Sunscreen Offer Protection From Both Types of UV Radiation?

Physical sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide offer UVB and UVA protection. Zinc oxide is favored since it blocks more UV light than titanium dioxide. Benzophenones and octocrylene can absorb UVA and UVB rays.

How Should Sunscreen Be Applied to the Skin?

Apply sunscreen liberally as a general rule. Most people need to use sunscreen more regularly or in sufficient amounts. To give sunscreen enough time to absorb it into the skin and start working, apply it for around 30 minutes before sun exposure. Excessive amounts of sunscreen have no negative effects and no risks.

What Are the Other Treatment Methods for Melasma?

Various topical treatment options are as follows.

  • Azelaic Acid: It is used twice daily as a cream, lotion, or gel. It is safe to use when pregnant.

  • Topical Corticosteroid: Hydrocortisone aids in lightening melasma's color. Additionally, it can reduce the possibility of dermatitis brought on by other substances.

  • Hydroquinone: The drug hydroquinone is used as a cream or lotion. It is applied directly to the melasma patches at night for two to four months.

  • Methimazole: This antithyroid medication is available as a pill or cream. It is effective in treating hydroquinone-resistant melasma.

  • Soybean Extract: It is believed that soybean extract lessens the amount of color that melanocytes transfer to skin cells.

  • Tretinoin: It is efficient but should not be used when pregnant because it can lead to dermatitis.


Sun protection is important to prevent various skin conditions and aging. It can be achieved by various means. Melasma is a usual skin disorder that causes dark brown patches. Sometimes, it disappears on its own without treatment. Protecting from sunlight to prevent the recurrence of melasma if it fades away is a must.

Source Article IclonSourcesSource Article Arrow
Dr. Basti Bharatesh Devendra
Dr. Basti Bharatesh Devendra



agingmelasmasun protection factor
Community Banner Mobile
By subscribing, I agree to iCliniq's Terms & Privacy Policy.

Source Article ArrowMost popular articles

Do you have a question on


Ask a doctor online

*guaranteed answer within 4 hours

Disclaimer: No content published on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website. Read our Editorial Process to know how we create content for health articles and queries.

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. iCliniq privacy policy