Sunspots on Skin: Causes, Prevention & Removal

We all love to bask in the bright sun. It brings warmth, joy, a golden tan…and sometimes wrinkles, sunburns and sunspots.

Sunspots? What are those?

First of all: no, they are not freckles.

While freckles appear and disappear from time to time, sun spots  (a.k.a. solar lentigines, liver spots, solar keratosis and age spots) tend to stay once they appear. Looking like flat brown patches of skin, they usually pop up on the parts of your skin that are over-exposed to the UV rays.

It happens, due to the reaction of melanin-producing cells, melanocytes.  Their function includes protecting your body from harmful UV rays.  Once your body is over-exposed, melanocytes consider it a threat and increase melanin production to put up defenses against the UV rays effect.  Normally, it results in tan – evenly spread skin darkening.

However, sometimes, extra pigment gathers in just one area.

This is how you get sunspots.

The most common area for sun spots are forehead, nose, cheeks and hands. Sunspots’ color ranges from brown to black. Sometimes, there are exceptions like red or white spots.

Sunspots and Skin Cancer?

While sunspots do not harm your health in any way, many types of skin cancer start from one brown spot found somewhere on your body. It is easy to confuse sunspots with melanoma and vice versa.

The main distinction between sunspots and melanoma is the following:

  • Sunspots are the result of excessive melanin production. While the pigment production is increased, number of melanocytes remains the same;
  • Melanoma is characterized by the uncontrolled growth of the melanocytes, which happens when the UV rays damage the very skin cells’ DNA;

So, while sunspots have no connection with cancer, they are a warning: time to limit sun exposure. If you have many sunspots all over your body, consulting your dermatologist or signing up for skin examination will be the best solution.

Why remove sunspots?

Sunspots are mostly painless, but can sting or itch, especially if they are under direct sunlight. Also, they are not always smooth in texture – they can feel scaly, rough and start looking like warts in time.

Some people are more sensitive to sunlight than others and may get sunspots even after being exposed to harsh sunlight for a short time.

Moreover, discolorations on the face, neck, and chest won’t fade over time.  Most likely they will continue to worsen with age and may negatively affect how one feels about their appearance.  The good news is that most of these discolored spots on the skin are treatable.

So why not get rid of sunspots, when it is possible?

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How to remove sunspots?

There are treatments directed at removing sunspots from face and body as well as aid in the prevention new sunspots. They include both natural and clinical procedures.

Let’s take a closer look at the treatments, solutions and ways to deal with sunspots – from the most common and over-the-counter methods to highly advanced technologies.

Natural remedies

  • Lemon juice

Citric acid found in lemon is a universal stain remover and lightener. It is mild enough to be safe for your skin and delicate fabric. At the same time it stimulates skin cell regeneration.

Squeeze lemon juice on a cotton ball and softly apply to your sunspot area for 15-20 minutes. Then, wash off. As lemon juice tends to dry skin and make it more sensitive, we recommend you to moisturize it after the procedure and avoid sun exposure for a while.

  • Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is a primary component in all skin healing, softening and moisturizing solution. It is also efficient at removing sunspots, boosting cell regeneration and reducing the size and color of sunspots.

Aloe Vera can be found in many herbal creams. Also, you can squeeze the juice from the plant. There are no precautions about using Aloe Vera due to its mild and healing effect.

  • Milk

Lactic acid is yours safe, organic bleaching agent. Milk and butter milk are widely used as components for organic skin lightening masks, so making and applying one will help you to fade the sunspots without damaging your skin.

  • Vitamin E (capsules)

A powerful source of skin-repairing anti-oxidants, Vitamin E can be used as a component of a sunspot-removing solution. Mix the capsule’s contents with honey and apply to the damaged area. Wait for a few minutes, then wash the paste away.

How to minimize the effects of sun damage on the face with professional and over-the-counter products

You do not believe in home remedies? Then you can turn to expert brands that offer sunspot-removing treatments. Look for special creams that contain the following ingredients:

  • Hydroquinone;
  • Retinol;
  • Glycolic acid (AHAs);
  • Kojic acid;

A product containing both Hydroquinone and Kojic acid to help diminish dark spots is Admire My Skin Ultra Potent Brightening Serum.  For overall anti-aging benefits try a cream containing Retinol – such as Baebody Retinol Moisturizer Cream for face and eye area.

If you want to help minimize the appearance of spots and discolorations you can try using tinted moisturizers, creams, and make-up.  Look for some that also contain sunscreen to help in the prevention of more spots. Clinique Redness Solutions Makeup (with SPF 15) and the Clinique Redness Solutions Daily Relief Cream are both helpful in covering up and reducing the appearance of brown and red spots on the skin.

Remember, that it takes time for the creams to show positive effects. Also, do not forget to moisturize your skin and stay away from UV ray exposure during treatment.

Medical removal of sunspots

When you have to deal with incredibly persistent sunspots and discolorations there is no need for despair.  Consulting a medical expert, such as a dermatologist, will help by offering a range of treatments directed at repairing the damaged skin. They will not only remove sunspots from your face, but can improve your skin’s overall look and condition by creating a more even skin tone and reducing the appearance of wrinkles and unwanted spots. However, keep in mind: each type of procedure has its own pros and cons. Remember to consult your dermatologist before you make a decision in favor of a certain treatment – it will help you minimize risks and consider all benefits.

  • Laser skin resurfacing

Lasers are very popular in dermatology and are usually one of the most common tools for removing sun spots on the face. For example, PicoScure is one of the latest models, approved by FDA and considered to be highly efficient. The concept of the procedure is the following: layers of dead skin cells are vaporized via powerful and precise light beams. It is usually a quick procedure that is very kind to the skin.

  • Microdermabrasion

This technique is based on a local dead skin cell exfoliation and suctioning via aluminum sand, salt crystals and abrasive tools (a diamond want or a wire brush). This procedure is very efficient, but leaves a small wound in a place of a sunspot, which is replaced by a smooth skin after healing.

  • Cryosurgery

Like warts, sunspots are frozen with liquid nitrogen and then easily removed.

  • Chemical peels

A chemical solution is applied to your face, exfoliating and peeling off the upper layer of your skin to reveal the new, healthy skin layer. Although, this is one of the most efficient ways to get rid of sunspots, it is not recommended for people with sensitive skin due to the strength of chemicals. Also, it is common for your skin to remain raw and red for a couple of days.

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How to prevent sunspots?

Naturally, it is better to try and prevent sunspots and discolorations, rather than have to worry about ways to remove them. There are simple ways to avoid getting sunspots and keep your skin smooth and unblemished:

  • Be careful with the sun. This is the primary cause of sunspots and other dark pigmentations. Limit your sunbathing, do not forget to wear a cap or carry an umbrella around to provide you with a much necessary shadow.  If you can, put on a visor before you head outdoors. A good one to try is the Under Armour Fly-By Visor for women.  And if you want added protection for your neck and chest try the Coolibar Women’s Novara Wide Brim Hat.
  • 10AM – 4PM is the period of the most intense UV rays. If you like to go to the beach, better do it before or after this time.
  • Sunscreen is your friend. Do not rely solely on moisturizers and foundations to shield you from UV rays. Apply your sun protection 30 minutes before going under the sun. Do not forget to reapply it every two hours later.  A good one to try is Elta MD Broad Spectrum SPF46 Facial Sunscreen.  This one even comes in a tinted version to help cover up any unwanted spots.  This brand is also recommended for skin types prone to acne, rosacea, or any other type of hyperpigmentation. However, be careful when swimming.  Not all facial sunscreens are water-resistant so be sure to apply one that is if you plan on getting wet.


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