Sun spots are called Solar lentigos and commonly known as ‘liver spots’. These well-defined brown macules are an over-production of melanin and occur because of excessive sun exposure. Lasermed manager Penny Jenkinson gives the bad and good news about sun spots.
Sadly, enjoying outdoor activities in your youth will see sun spots developing years later. They increase in number with age and tend to stay. Smooth and flat sun spots are harmless, but unsightly. Those that are raised and rough should be assessed by a dermatologist as they may be a precursor to cancer.
These lesions appear on sun-exposed skin of adults, often on the face, chest, legs, arms and dorsal hands. A woman’s true age can be determined by her hands. Although many women look after their faces, most neglect their hands. Our hands are constantly exposed to the sun while driving cars, causing them to age far quicker. Compare your hands; you will notice that your right hand will appear more tanned and older than your left hand.
As common as brown sun spots are, white spots also occur. White spots are hypopigmented lesions which means that the sun has stripped the skin of its pigment. This cannot be reversed.
Sun spots aren’t seen in children. Freckles are often present in children, but aren’t permanent. The amount of freckles decreases with age.
TREATMENT OF LENTIGOS
Sun protection is vital!
Apply sun block twice daily. Sun block should be applied 30 minutes before going outside. If you’ve been swimming, reapply your sun block immediately. Wear protective clothing (long sleeves) and a wide brimmed hat. Try to avoid the sun during the peak times of 10am to 4pm.
Topical lightening creams
Some are available over the counter. Creams that contain kojic acid, licorice, mulberry extract and vitamin C will be more effective. Stronger creams containing hydroquinone and retinol require a prescription.
It’s a cost-effective, quick and often effective treatment, especially for rough and raised sun spots. Liquid nitrogen may, however, leave a white mark.
Gentle fruit acid peels will lighten sun spots and even out the skin colour with time. It should be done in winter.
A variety of lasers may be used on smooth, flat sun spots. The laser will shatter the melanin production and initially the Sun spots will appear before fading. This should also be done in winter.
Both Chemical Peels and Lasers are very effective treatments with additional benefits, including collagen production to refine and improve skin texture, as well as being anti-ageing.
Topical Creams to lighten sun spots:
Neostrata: Enlighten Range
Skin Tech: Blending Cream, Atrofillin
Obaji: Pro C Serum, Exoderm, Exoderm Forte, Blend FX
Zone: Day and Night Creams
Avéne: D-Pigment Cream
Heliocare, Photoderm, Skin Tech Melablock, Obaji Professional C, Avéne