Sunspots on Skin: Their Causes and How to Treat Them
While some skin problems are simply caused by the natural aging process, some issues are exacerbated by exposure to the detrimental factors in the environment, such as sunspots on skin for example, which are caused by harmful UV rays. During regular or prolonged exposure to the sun, the skin reacts by creating melanin in the area to protect it. Over time, sunspots on skin can grow bigger and darker, depending on the level of exposure, and can be difficult to remove without a cosmetic procedure at a skin care specialist’s office. Not all sunspots become a danger, but to keep them from becoming a nuisance, those who are concerned should make an effort to understand how these discolorations form, how to treat them, and most importantly, how to prevent them in the first place.
The Causes of Sunspots on Skin
While their name makes it obvious that sunspots on skin are caused by exposure to the sun, it is important to understand their formation on a deeper level if you hope to avoid them. You may have even heard this problem being referred to as “liver spots,” but that term is misleading, because this skin problem has nothing to do with the liver.
Sunspots on skin form mainly as a byproduct of the skin’s attempt to protect itself. When the skin is exposed to the sun’s UV rays, your body’s natural defense is to send melanocytes to the area in great numbers. These cells produce melanin, which is the pigment that gives your skin its color and protects the body by neutralizing free radicals from UV radiation. The more sun damage, the more melanin is produced, and the darker the skin becomes.
Over time, as the area continues to be exposed, sunspots on skin begin to form. These dark spots on face and hands can vary significantly in size, but are usually small and have a smooth texture, very much like the rest of your skin surface. Sunspots on skin can appear anywhere, but they are most common on the face and the arms, where the skin is exposed to UV rays on a regular basis.
Treatment of Sunspots on Skin
There are a number of treatments to get rid of sunspots on skin, from professional treatments to home remedies that may help to fade them gradually. For example photo rejuvenation can treat this problem by using Broad Band Light (BBL), which penetrates the epidermis and works under the surface to boost collagen production and bombards the dark spots with light energy. The cells containing high amounts of melanin readily absorb these wavelengths and are destroyed in the process.
When you first go in for treatment of sunspots on skin, the dermatologist will test a patch of skin to see how it reacts to the BBL. If there is no negative reaction, the clinic can treat the dark spots on face and hands directly. In most cases, more than one procedure is needed for significant results, because the pigment isn’t simply removed, but requires the body’s rejuvenative processes to cycle out the damaged cells and heal surrounding tissue.
If photo rejuvenation doesn’t fit into your budget, there may be over-the-counter treatments to get rid of sunspots on skin. For example, there are many creams and gels on the market that claim to fade liver spots, with most of them containing bleaching elements to brighten skin.
If you’re shopping for a product to fade sunspots on skin, make sure that you read the labels and understand the ingredients. Avoid those that contain fillers and instead look for active ingredients such as kojic acid or tretinoin. Test a small patch of skin with the product before you apply it to any sunspots on skin to ensure that you won’t suffer an allergic reaction.
Liver Spot Prevention
The best way to prevent sunspots on skin is to protect it from UV rays and the free radicals that they contain. Wear SPF lotion and moisturizer every day on exposed skin and try to avoid prolonged exposure to the sun’s rays so that your skin’s melanin production remains stable.