Skip to content

Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

Font Size

Skin Changes Caused by Sun Exposure (Photoaging)

Skin changes (photoaging) can occur from too much sun over many years. Some of these changes include wrinkles, dryness, freckles, "liver spots," easy bruising, skin growths, skin patches (actinic keratoses), and changes in skin color. Photoaging is seen more in people who burn easily.

Normal skin aging causes fine, shallow wrinkles. Photoaged skin creates wrinkles that are deep and thick. Photoaging can be stopped by using sun protection measures. Even after skin changes have started, the skin can repair itself if you limit further sun exposure and avoid getting sunburned.

A monthly self-examination of skin moles, blemishes, or birthmarks is important to notice any skin changes that may lead to skin cancer. Check for the ABCDEs camera.gif of skin cancer:

  • Asymmetry. One half doesn't match the other half.
  • Border irregularity. The edges are ragged, notched, or blurred.
  • Color. The pigmentation is not uniform. Shades of tan, brown, and black are present. Dashes of red, white, and blue add to the mottled appearance. Changes in color distribution—especially the spread of color from the edge of a mole into the surrounding skin—also are an early sign of melanoma.
  • Diameter. The mole or skin growth is larger than 6 mm (0.2 in.), or about the size of a pencil eraser. Any growth of a mole should be of concern.
  • Evolution. There is a change in the size, shape, symptoms (such as itching or tenderness), surface (especially bleeding), or color of a mole.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerH. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last RevisedSeptember 1, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 01, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Today on WebMD

Pictures and symptoms of the red, scaly rash.
woman with dyed dark hair
What it says about your health.
woman with cleaning products
Top causes of the itch that rashes.
atopic dermatitus
Identify and treat common skin problems.
itchy skin
shingles rash on skin
woman with skin tag
Woman washing face

Itching for Relief?

Get Help With the

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

woman washing her hair in sink
close up of womans bare neck
woman with face cream