Summer is almost here! Memorial Day weekend is fast approaching and if you live in a warm climate, you most likely will be near the water. If you have acne scars, there are some precautions you need to take before you head out to soak up the sun.

Last summer, we were at Cocoa Beach in Florida and there were two women sitting to my left. One of them was complaining to her friend about her scars, wishing they would just go away. I then overheard her friend tell her,  “Sit in the sun for a while. It will fade your scars.” It took nearly all of my self control not to butt into their conversation to talk about the sun’s impact on acne scarring.

The scoop on the sun and scarring

We know that the sun can promote premature skin aging and cause burns, but the sun can also make scars significantly worse. The sun does not improve acne, nor will it reduce acne scarring. In fact, it may compound the problem.  Why? The sun’s UV rays can cause hyperpigmentatiion. If you have newer scars, the UV rays can make them darker and more noticeable.

Scars are more susceptible to sun damage

If you have scars, these areas react differently to the sun than areas of normal skin. The sun actually has a greater impact on scarred areas, as they are less resistant to the effects of the UV rays. In other words, this makes the skin more likely to burn. Additionally, when these sun-induced changes occur, the scars will be more likely to change color. Sun-damaged scars often are a deep pink, red or even purple hue.

Preventing further skin damage

If you have scars and will be headed into the sun, it is imperative that you protect those sensitive areas with a broad spectrum sunscreen. We all need sun protection, but if you have acne scars, wearing a sunscreen is especially important. Look for a product with at least an SPF 30 to protect your scars from further damage and prevent new scars.

Treating existing scars

Whether your scars are minor or have been worsened due to sun exposure, there is hope. Look for products with hydroquinone to diminish their appearance. Hydroquinone is effective and will lighten your scars faster than any other ingredient.

You do not have to skip your trip to the beach if you have scars. You just need to be more careful. Wear your sunscreen, bring along a hat, and don’t sit out during peak hours. Enjoy your summer!