Sun spots, also called age spots or solar lentigines, are dark spots on the skin caused by direct, prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays or from artificial sources of ultraviolet rays, like from a tanning bed.
As people age, sun spots most commonly appear on the backs of the hands, the forearms, neck, chest and face – areas that receive the most sun exposure.
Sun spots develop due to the reaction of melanin-producing cells: melanocytes. Their function includes protecting your body from harmful UV rays. When your body is over-exposed to ultraviolet rays, melanocytes consider it a threat and increase melanin production to put up defenses against the UV rays’ effect. Normally, this results in tanned skin – evenly spread skin darkening. However, sometimes extra pigment gathers in just one area. This is how you get sun spots.
Sun spots are more common in people who freckle and who burn easily, typically those with lighter colored skin. It is important to know that if you’ve had enough sun to develop age spots, you have a higher risk of developing skin cancer.
Sun spots are flat and vary in size from a small pea to a dime. They usually are somewhat round and have irregular borders. They are tan, brown or deep brown in color.
The best treatment for sun spots is prevention. The key to preventing sun spots is avoiding the sun and proper sun protection such as daily sunscreen use. For many patients, it may be too late for prevention, however there are a number of treatment options available.
The top treatment options for sun spots are:
- Chemical Peels
- Laser Resurfacing
- Intense Pulsed Light Therapy
Dr. Holy at The Center for Advanced Dermatology in Phoenix offers several successful sun spot treatments. Call 602-867-7546 or visit mddermsolutions.com to learn more about sun spots or to schedule a consultation.