There are tons of reasons to be cautious about sun exposure. The possibility of developing sunspots is one of them.
These dark spots on your skin, also known as age or liver spots, are created by increased deposits of melanin and are typically found on your face, hands, arms and shoulders, i.e., the areas most often exposed to the sun. They are very common in people age 50 and older with fair skin but can appear on younger people as well.
While they pose no threat to your health, they should be examined carefully to rule out the possibility of them actually being precancerous or cancerous growths. Sunspots are typically flat, oval-shaped and tan to dark brown in color.
Any spots that are black, growing larger, have an irregular border or unusual coloring, are bleeding or a concern to you for any reason should be examined by a dermatologist.
Scrub Those Spots
If you have sunspots and want to reduce their appearance there are several at-home and outpatient treatments that can do so, though they may take a while to yield results:
Over-the-Counter and Prescription Products
Retinol speeds up turnover of skin cells at the surface while inhibiting the enzyme that causes dark spots. Using prescription-strength products with higher levels of retinol can speed up the fading process. Hydroquinone is a skin-lightening agent also available in prescription and non-prescription lotions.
Products containing glycolic or trichloroacetic acids fade sunspots by essentially damaging the skin and forcing it to regenerate, which results in lighter skin over the sun-spotted area. Stronger peels are administered in dermatological offices and spas while consumer versions are also available.
Laser and intense light-pulsed therapy is performed in a medical office to destroy melanin-making cells that make the sunspots visible. Two or three sessions are usually required, but in some cases it can take months for the sunspots to fade.
Dermabrasions and Microdermabrasions
These in-office procedures “plane” or sand down your skin with a high-speed spinning brush to reveal new skin underneath; dermabrasion is more intense and can lead to faster results.