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Can A Chemical Peel Cure Sun-Damaged Skin?

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If your face is beginning to pay the price for long, sunny summers at the pool or beach in your teens and twenties, you may be wondering whether there is anything you can do to reverse this damage. Fortunately, technology for treating aging skin has significantly advanced over the last few decades. While you won't ever be able to regain the skin you had during your younger years, you can reverse more recent aging to achieve skin similar to those your age without previous sun damage. Read on to learn more about chemical peels and other effective treatments that can help eliminate the effects of the sun.

What does a chemical peel do to your skin?

Your skin constantly regenerates itself -- and as it does, the outer layers slough off, letting new skin shine through. A chemical peel speeds up this process and removes the outer, most damaged layers of skin. After a chemical peel, your skin may look red and feel sensitive for a few days. After you heal, you'll notice that your skin feels much softer and looks much more uniform and less lined.

If you're not consistently getting severe sunburns, it's unlikely that your sun exposure is damaging any but the outer layers of skin. Removing these layers through a chemical peel can help reduce the lasting sun damage and give you a much younger appearance.

What other treatments can reverse sun damage?

For those with chemical sensitivities or other reasons not to get a chemical peel, there are still a couple of options that can help reduce the effects of long-term sun exposure. The best treatment depends on which specific type of sun damage you're trying to combat. 

Those with skin discoloration or dark spots caused by an overproduction of melanin could benefit from applying hydroquinone, a harmless substance that can penetrate your skin and allow it to achieve a more uniform tone. Combining hydroquinone with daily sunscreen use can reverse past damage and prevent further skin darkening.

Those battling fine lines and wrinkles can sometimes benefit from retinoids. These skin care products are derived from the same substance your body uses to help your skin renew itself and improve collagen production. Because retinoids can make your skin sensitive while you're using them, you'll have to take extra care to avoid sun exposure without sunscreen. This will help protect you against further damage as well.