so you can get a sunburn from sitting near a window. who knew?
November 23, 2007 2:40 PM   Subscribe

Need advice for a fade cream to hide/minimize sun damage

So I've got that super pale "do not expose to direct light" Irish skin. I will, without exaggeration, get sunburns sitting at my desk at work since it's by a window.

I wear sunscreen like it's my religion, but even so, over the years, I've managed to develop a blotchy red patch on my sternum area. Needless to say, it's very difficult to hide in anything but the highest necklines, and I'm not thrilled.

I have a similar problem on my cheeks and across my nose, but there it's a bit more forgiving since it just looks like I'm a bit ruddy.

Anyone know of a trick, DIY or purchased, to fade these back to my usual "sheet of paper" coloring?
posted by Kellydamnit to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have the same kind of skin and I don't mess around with sun damage. I see a derm for this sort of thing. I have been to the Neiman Center (in your area) for related issues and I love them. If you have coverage, I suggest a derm to begin with.

Retin-A will help as well, or any other creams with retinoids. Since Retin-A is prescription only, we are back to the derm.
posted by oflinkey at 3:12 PM on November 23, 2007

IANAD, but in my experience, what people call "sun damage" would be areas of brown pigment rather than red. The presence of redness (or erythema) means that blood vessels in the area are dilated or even broken.

Does your redness on your chest wax and wane? Does it get more or less intense in colour, with the area affected changing with stress, heat, wind, cold, exertion, hot drinks, alcohol, etc.? If so, you're looking at a vascular component. It is very difficult to get any topical medication to penetrate to the vessels and get them to constrict. People will full-fledged rosacea are looking forward to the commercial availability of a compound called SansRosa which is still awaiting final tests, but probably won't be available in the States until 2010. There's a cream called Rosacure which can slightly reduce redness over a 12 week period (see before and after photos here), but as you can see, the red is still there.

There are some laser treatments, such as VBeam or the various YAG or KTP lasers, which can reduce redness. These are most successful on tiny broken capillaries instead of the smooth pink or red look from the tiniest blood vessels being involved. You will also find many doctors and spas offering IPL (also known as PhotoDerm, Photofacial, Fotofacial, facial rejunenation, etc.) Laser and IPL can be quite effective, but they are expensive and unpredictable. Some people get great results, some people get no results, and some unlucky people can get worse. You really don't want to run out to the nearest spa to get this done because you want an experienced practitioner with a good set of before and after photos and the ability to recognize what can be done for you, while recognizing that there are no guarantees.

See a dermatologist and get assessed. If it's not just transient redness, but early rosacea, there are topical treatments that can halt and, to some degree, reverse the redness by reducing flushing.

On preview: if this is RED sun damage, possibly rosacea, you should avoid Retin-A as many doctors find it can worsen the redness. Retin-A is great for wee lines and brown sun damage, but I wouldn't use it as a first option for red skin.
posted by maudlin at 3:24 PM on November 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

On the other hand, if the area is a very stable red rather than a varying red, and it seems that the skin surface is affected, possibly rather weathered looking, then it is more likely to be something called Poikiloderma of Civatte. This page shows relatively advanced cases. While you might see some imprrovement with some topical medications like Retin-A, expect very minor results. This is a place where laser therapy could be relatively effective.

I'm not a dermatologist. See a dermatologist. :-)
posted by maudlin at 3:36 PM on November 23, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice. I'd always assumed it was sun damage since those are my major sunburn zones. It is a stable pinkish red color, not brown at all... it may look darker when I am blushing, or if I just came in from the cold, but it fades back to the normal color when I warm up or stop blushing or whatever.

Sounds like a trip to the dermatologist is in order... I'd never even think of letting someone blast me with a laser without seeing a doc first, so no worries of that. And if it is something that's not standard sun damage I don't want to risk fade cream, since if it just pales me around it even more I'll only look worse after.

The final link maudlin posted is a pretty close hit... the main picture on the article is the same area (although mine's just the lower part), and my skin's the same pink tone that woman has on her neck. I don't know if that's it, though, as my neck is fine, and as I said, I also have it across my cheeks and nose. (think standard freckle distribution area... that's why I don't worry about it, it tends to blend with my freckles.)
posted by Kellydamnit at 4:03 PM on November 23, 2007

Best answer: kellydamnit, have you tried redness reducing sunscreen made by Purpose. I love this stuff.
posted by LoriFLA at 7:39 AM on November 24, 2007

Response by poster: Late update... I never did make it to the MD, but I picked up some Purpose and it already seems to be working. Bonus, since I get insane dry skin at work.
posted by Kellydamnit at 8:18 PM on December 30, 2007

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