Sun spots on the skin: what they are and how to treat them

Without proper care, the sun’s rays can leave their mark on our skin. A very common effect is the appearance of sun spots, more or less dark in color, in the areas most exposed to the sun, such as the face, hands and neckline.

In general, skin blemishes are not usually dangerous, but they can be unsightly. Dr. José María Ricart Vayá, head of the Aesthetic Medicine units at the Ruber Internacional and Quirónsalud Valencia hospitals, tells us that “sunspots are the most visible and evident reflection of many hours of exposure to the sun and the main sign of premature aging“.

We explain why spots appear on the skin, how they are the most frequent and what dermatological treatments allow them to be lightened and even eliminated.

Why do spots appear on the face, neckline and hands?

The spots on the skin are a defense mechanism of the body in situations that can be harmful to cells. This increases the secretion of melanin to protect the cells and, as a result, these unsightly spots are produced.

The sun is the main cause of dark spots. on the face and body. Dr. Ricart points out that “the skin has memory, it forgives, but it does not forget the sunburns of years that, a posteriori, they are reflected on the face above all in the form of solar lentigines, melasma or solar keratoses, which are brown spots that are increasing”.

How are sun spots treated?

In addition to sun exposure, other risk factors that can cause spots on the skin are:

  • genetics, such as vitiligo, which causes white patches
  • hormonal
  • Consumption of certain medication can cause spots on the face
  • Diseasessuch as cancer and some infections
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Over the years the spots can become more evident. Specifically, they are very common after the age of 50, although they can come out earlier if we expose ourselves to the sun without control. Our specialist in Dermatology tells us that From the age of 45, a greater number of spots may begin to appear on the hands. as a result of cumulative sun exposure. In addition, “age is also responsible for the spots that progressively appear on the neckline,” adds the doctor.

Are sun spots dangerous?

In general, they do not indicate any disease. But it is recommended to examine them whenever there are any signs of suspected skin cancer, such as changes in color, size or shape. To do this, you should go to the Dermatology consultation where the moles and other spots on the skin are checked, and the most appropriate treatment is indicated.

Types of spots that can appear on the skin

The unsightly stains that are repeated in the consultation are:

  1. Solar lentigines. They are light brown spots that can appear on different areas of the face and body, such as the back of the hands. Dr. Ricart tells us that “lentigines are flat hyperpigmentations as a direct consequence of continuous sun exposure and usually appear after 40 years of age”. With age these spots can become larger.
  2. seborrheic keratoses. They appear in any area of ​​the body and are spots with relief. Like lentigines, they are very common after 40 years of age.
  3. Melasma. It is a set of brown spots that appear on the upper lip, forehead and cheeks due to sun exposure and other hormonal factors. In fact, melasma is very common in pregnant women or during the postpartum period.
  4. Moles. It is very important to check these types of spots, as they could be indicative of skin cancer.
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What state is your skin in?

In Dermatology, all sunspots on the skin can be examined, even those that we do not see yet, using the Adonia facial scanner, a diagnostic test that provides information on:

  1. sun damage
  2. pigmentation levels
  3. The wrinkles
  4. The state of the pores
  5. The texture of the dermis layers
  6. The degree of sebum that covers the skin
  7. Rosacea, spider veins, and other vascular-type skin lesions

Is it possible to prevent the appearance of sun spots?

The most important measure to prevent sun spots is protect the skin properly with the use of photoprotectors or sun creams, without exposing ourselves to the sun for too many hours and avoiding the most harmful time slots.

But, even so, there are types of spots that cannot be prevented by sun protection, such as those of hormonal or genetic origin. In these cases, if we want to prevent them from getting worse, it is best to opt for dermatological treatments.

Anti-blemish treatments in dermatology

To say goodbye to uncomfortable sun spots, and show off a more attractive face, we can opt for dermatological treatments, such as:

  • Combination of pulsed light and Q-Switch laser. Both techniques in combination act against solar lentigines effectively. In this regard, Dr. Ricart explains that “the combination of these devices allows a progressive clearance of lesions after one or two sessions.” Solar photoprotection will be an ally before and after treatment to protect the skin from possible side effects.
  • CO2 laser or Q Switched. It is an indicated laser technique to combat seborrheic keratosisalthough there are cases in which it may be necessary to use liquid nitrogen to remove this kind of sunspot.
  • peeling depigmenting. This type of professional exfoliation, together with the application of a specific whitening mask and the laser Q Switchedused to treat melasma.
  • Photofinder. It is a digitized dermatoscopy technique that allows examine moles and track the most suspicious.
  • Erbium-YAG or CO2 lasers. These are laser techniques that help attenuate solar keratoses. As Dr. Ricart describes: “With these treatments, the stained surface is completely exfoliated in order to subsequently remove the lesion.”
  • photodynamic therapy. When solar keratoses present a high risk of malignancy, this treatment may be recommended in which a photosensitizer is applied and, later, light therapy is administered to remove the lesions.
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