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Keywords:

  • extrinsic ageing;
  • premature skin ageing;
  • ultraviolet photodamage

Summary

Photoageing is the superposition of chronic ultraviolet (UV)-induced damage on intrinsic ageing and accounts for most age-associated changes in skin appearance. It is triggered by receptor-initiated signalling, mitochondrial damage, protein oxidation and telomere-based DNA damage responses. Photodamaged skin displays variable epidermal thickness, dermal elastosis, decreased/fragmented collagen, increased matrix-degrading metalloproteinases, inflammatory infiltrates and vessel ectasia. The development of cosmetically pleasing sunscreens that protect against both UVA and UVB irradiation as well as products such as tretinoin that antagonize the UV signalling pathways leading to photoageing are major steps forward in preventing and reversing photoageing. Improved understanding of the skin’s innate UV protective mechanisms has also given rise to several novel treatment concepts that promise to revolutionize this field within the coming decade. Such advances should not only allow for the improved appearance of skin in middle age and beyond, but also greatly reduce the accompanying burden of skin cancer.