Harvard Health Letter

By the way, doctor: Can I repair sunburned skin?

Q. I've been out in the sun all my life. My forehead has been sunburned a thousand times. I now wear a hat. Is there something I could use to repair the damage to the areas of my forehead that have been sunburned so much?

A. The first thing I tell patients is that going forward, they really need to get into the habit of applying sunscreen, especially on vulnerable places like the forehead. That's not new or exciting, but it's one of the most valuable pieces of advice I can give. Wearing a hat is also a good idea.

Sun-damaged skin can be treated with topical retinoids — creams or gels that contain chemicals derived from vitamin A. Although they were originally approved for treatment of acne and later, psoriasis, topical retinoids have proved to be effective for repairing sun-damaged skin. They lighten sun-induced freckling (lentigines) and other types of facial pigmentation and improve the overall appearance of the skin.

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