This article is reviewed, corrected, and approved by: Julia Weiss CNP| RN | MPH
Dark areas on the sun are caused by a magnetic activity known as sunspots. They often are temporary, but in the long run, they can be harmful. Prolonged exposure to the sun can increase the risk of developing sunspots and other sun-related skin conditions.
What Are Sunspots on The Skin?
Areas of increased pigmentation on the skin, commonly referred to as solar lentigines or age spots, are caused by prolonged exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation. These are also known as sunspots.
Symptoms of Sunspots on Skin
- Flat, brown, or dark spots known as sunspots can be found on the legs, skin, lips, and chest. Particularly the body areas that are directly exposed to the sun, such as the face, hands, shoulders, and arms.
- These objects are typically round or oval and come in different sizes, from very small to a few inches wide.
- Sunspots are generally painless and do not cause any physical discomfort.
- The color of sunspots can vary, ranging from light brown to dark brown or black, depending on the individual's skin tone and the extent of sun damage.
- These spots are easily noticed in people with fair skin, although people of all skin types can develop sunspots.
- Sunspots may gradually darken or become more prominent with continued sun exposure.
- In some cases, clusters of sunspots may merge together, forming larger patches of hyperpigmentation known as "sunburn freckles" or "liver spots."
- Sunspots are typically harmless and do not require medical treatment, but they can be cosmetically bothersome for some individuals.
Risk Factors For Sunspots on Skin
Developing sunspots are primarily caused by internal factors rather than external factors. There are some risk factors that can increase your risk. A few of these are:
- Continuous and repeated exposure to the sun or sun spot lights, especially during the hours of maximum solar strength (typically from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
- Lack of adequate sun protection measures (For example, using sunscreen, using clothing that protects, etc)
- Fair skin complexion, as individuals with lighter skin have less melanin, which provides natural protection against harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
- Living in regions closer to the equator, where sunspot lighting is more intense throughout the year.
- Altitudes above 4,000 meters, where the atmosphere filters less UV rays.
- Occupations or activities that involve spending significant time outdoors under the sun without proper protection, such as farmers, construction workers, or outdoor sports enthusiasts.
- Previous history of sunburns, as it indicates excessive sun exposure and increased vulnerability to sun damage.
- There are certain medications or medical conditions that can increase the skin's sensitivity to sun spot lights, such as certain antibiotics, antifungals, or chemotherapy drugs, as well as autoimmune conditions or photosensitivity disorders.
- Family history of sunspots or skin cancer, as genetics can influence an individual's susceptibility to sun damage.
- Aging, as cumulative sun exposure over the years, can lead to the development of sunspots and other sun-related skin changes.
Treatment and Prevention from Sunspots on Skin
In general two types of treatment, we often see for sunspot treatment, one is a home remedy, and the other is medical treatment. Let's see how to prevent sunspots on skin.
To make dark spots from the sun look lighter, put lemon juice on a cotton ball and keep it on your skin for 10-15 minutes. After that, wash it off with water. The natural bleaching properties in lemon juice can gradually help reduce the appearance of sunspots.
Aloe Vera Gel
To help reduce the appearance of sunspots and promote skin healing, you can use aloe vera leaf directly to the skin in the affected region. Your skin can benefit from aloe vera's soothing and healing properties.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has grown in favor of a natural cure for a variety of skin problems. You can apply the solution to the sunspots using a cotton ball. Leave it on for a few minutes before washing it off. The acidity helps exfoliate and fade sunspots.
Mix yogurt and lemon juice. Apply to sunspots for 15-20 minutes. Yogurt contains lactic acid, which helps gently scrub the skin and reduce sunspots.
Green Tea Extract
Using a cotton ball or spray bottle, apply cooled green tea directly to the sunspots. An antioxidant found in green tea can help reduce inflammation and fade sunspots.
Vitamin E Oil
One option you could try is to gently open a vitamin E capsule and apply the oil directly onto those pesky sunspots. Vitamin E has antioxidants that can be really helpful in repairing damaged skin and fading those spots over time.
If you're seeing a dermatologist for skin discoloration, they might give you creams to apply on the affected area. These creams may contain compounds like hydroquinone, retinoids, or corticosteroids.
These products can help to lighten sunspots and even out skin tone. Follow your dermatologist's instructions for proper application.
In this procedure, skin peels off after a chemical solution is applied to it, revealing new, healthier skin underneath. Chemical peels have been shown to be a viable solution for diminishing the visibility of sunspots. The potency and classification of the peel utilized will be contingent upon the extent of the sunspots and the individual's skin type.
Sunspots can be effectively treated using laser therapies like intense pulsed light (IPL) or fractional laser. These treatments involve directing concentrated light energy to the affected areas, which helps to reduce pigmentation and promote collagen production.
In this procedure, liquid nitrogen is used to freeze the sunspots, causing them to scab and eventually fall off. Cryotherapy can be effective for smaller sunspots. However, several sessions may be required for the best outcomes.
To improve the look of sunspots, a method called microdermabrasion can be used. It works by removing the top layer of skin with a special tool, which encourages the growth of new skin cells and collagen production.
Freckles vs Sunspots
Sunspots on the skin generally caused by sun exposure. They can increase the risk of skin conditions, and sometimes, it may cause skin cancer.
Home remedies like lemon juice and aloe vera gel can help reduce their appearance. If home remedies don't work, you may seek professional advice for severe cases and protect your skin from the sun.