Derm Topics

Photodamage: Pathogenesis and Clinical Features

Next Steps in Derm, in partnership with Pigmentary Disorders Exchange Symposium interviewed Dr. Susan C. Taylor, Bernett L. Johnson Endowed Professor, director of the Skin of Color Research Fellowship and vice chair for diversity, equity and inclusion in the dermatology department at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Watch as Dr. Taylor shares the causes of photodamage. (Spoiler alert: There’s more than UV radiation to blame.) Find out the impact of visible light and which skin tones are affected the most. Learn what photodamage looks like in darker skin tones. Plus hear Dr. Taylor’s recommendations for preventing photodamage.

Further Reading

If you want to read more about photodamage and photoprotection, check out the following articles published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology:

Dermatologist Practical Guide to Encouraging Photoprotection in Skin of Color Patients


Patients with skin of color (SOC) are at risk for skin cancers and photoaging and have a unique predisposition to pigmentary disorders that are exacerbated by ultraviolet light exposure. Sun protection with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) > 15 sunscreen has been shown to not only decrease the incidence of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers, but also improve and prevent the exacerbation of certain ultraviolet (UV)-sensitive conditions, such as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), melasma, and Lichen Planus Pigmentosus (LPP).1 Despite this, the use of sunscreen among SOC patients have been shown to be inadequate, with barriers such as a poor blend with some skin complexions and lack of awareness being attributed as its drivers. Recent studies have also highlighted issues related to cultural and communication barriers that affect the way dermatologists relate to their skin of color patients.2 The purpose of this article is to provide practical tips to dermatologists interested in improving sunscreen adherence in their SOC patient population.

Choosing the Right Sunscreen in Communities of Color


Sunscreen use in skin of color is a topic that continues to require in-depth discussion and dialogue around its practices. In the context of popular culture and media, people of color are often not portrayed in mainstream sunscreen advocacy narratives. Marketing efforts have traditionally focused on the Eurocentric health concerns of fairer skinned individuals. In national marketing campaigns, important sunscreen concerns for communities of color, such as pigmentary disorders, often take the backseat to the skin cancer concerns more prevalent in fair skinned populations. Without proper representation as consumers, this leaves diverse communities to rely on the expertise of trained healthcare professionals to not only inform them of sunscreen’s photoprotective benefits but to provide insight on products appropriate for their specific skin needs.

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