How to Repair Sun Damage on the Arm

Spending time in the sun is a regular pastime for people throughout the United States and much of the rest of the world. Unfortunately, excessive exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can cause severe side effects on the skin including sunburn, dry skin, skin wrinkling and the formation of age spots. One area of the body typically exposed to direct sunlight is the arms. This makes the arms especially prone to sun damage. To combat this sun damage, there are several treatment options available.

Woman putting lotionon her hand and arm Credit: RyanKing999/iStock/Getty Images

Step 1

Use a skin moisturizer for sun-damaged dry skin. Moisturizers employ active ingredients called occlusives and humectants to restore and maintain moisture in the skin. Occlusive ingredients, such as cocoa butter, produce a thin layer of product on the skin, which slows the rate in which moisture evaporates from the skin. Humectants, such as glycerine, absorb water from the surrounding air and hold it close to the outer layer of skin, known as the stratum corneum. According to the New Zealand Dermatological Society, this increases the skin's capacity to hold water.

Step 2

Apply an alpha hydroxy acid cream. Sun exposure can reduce the levels of proteins called elastin and collagen in the skin. These proteins are necessary for tight and healthy-looking skin. Alpha hydroxy acid creams work by increasing the rate at which skin cells turn over. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this allows the cream to improve skin texture and tone, as well as improve the overall general condition of the skin.

Step 3

Schedule a chemical peel. Chemical peels can be performed by your dermatologist, and work by detaching the outer sun-damaged layer of skin from the layers beneath. This allows new skin to grow in the sun-damaged skin's place. Chemical peels vary in depth and intensity from strong phenol peels to milder alpha or beta hydroxy acid peels.

Step 4

Resurface the damaged skin with dermabrasion. Demrabrasion involves using an abrasive tool (such as a metal or diamond brush) to sand off the outer layers of skin. Like a chemical peel, this removes the outer affected layer of skin and allows new skin to grow in its place. For less severe sun damage, the less-invasive microdermabrasion may be used for treatment.

Step 5

Use cryotherapy to freeze away sun spots. Cryotherapy involves applying liquid nitrogen to sun spots on the skin. This freezes the spot and destroys the excess pigment responsible for the darker skin. According to the Mayo Clinic, this treatment does pose a risk for scarring or permanent discoloration of the treated skin.

Things You'll Need

  • Skin moisturizer

  • Alpha hydroxy acid cream

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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