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Dermatology Blog

Sunspots and Sun Damage: Here’s What a Day in the Sun Can Do

Sunspots, or whichever name you call them, are certainly not appealing. Yet, they’re quite common, especially for those living in sunny climes. Spending time out under the sun without taking enough measures can cause sun damage, often leading to visible signs of aging like wrinkles, fine lines, and sunspots. However, sunspots are not synonymous with sun damage.

What Is Sun Damage and What Causes It?

Sun-damaged skin is a result of over-exposure to the sun. Due to overexposure, the heat of the sun depletes the skin of essential oils. Moreover, your skin may also experience long-term changes in its structure and burning caused by ultraviolet radiation. Sunspots sun damage 300x199 - Sunspots and Sun Damage: Here’s What a Day in the Sun Can Do

 

Types of Sun Damaged Skin

Sunburn

It is one of the most common types of skin damage, characterized by skin injury that is a result of exposure to UV radiation. Severe cases of sunburn can cause large blisters or vesicles, while mild sunburn only causes the skin to be red and painful.

Dry skin

It is another common type of damage caused by the sun. This is when your skin loses moisture under the sun, making it appear dry or wrinkled even when you’re young.

 

Actinic keratosis

This is a more serious kind of sun damage that causes your skin to have small, scaly patches with a red, pink, or brownish tint. It often needs to get chemically treated or removed. Repeated exposure to the UV light is often the culprit. It shouldn’t be taken lightly as it often signals a growing risk of skin cancer.

 

How to Prevent Your Skin From Sun Damage

Prevention is always better than cure. Here are a few safety measures you can take to avoid sun damage of any kind.

  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen and reapply every 2 hours.
  • Cover up any unprotected areas of your skin when going out.
  • Use a pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes.
  • Try to avoid going out during peak hours between 10 am to 3 pm.
  • Wear dark clothes as they block the sun more than white.
  • Be cautious of any medications you may be taking that could make your skin sensitive to the sun. Some of them could be antifungals, anti-inflammatories, or a specific type of anti-biotic. Also, be cautious of any blood pressure medications.

Treatment

The treatment highly depends on the type of sun damage your skin sustains.

Actinic keratosis

For this type of damage, the treatment depends on factors such as the location and size of your actinic keratoses. Moreover, actinic keratosis may or may not be a sign of skin cancer. Consult a doctor for a more accurate diagnosis. They could recommend the following interventions:

  • Shave excision— This refers to shaving the abnormal skin area. Additionally, it can be used as a sample of biopsy for cancer.
  • Topical diclofenac sodium gel—This topical gel is anti-inflammatory. Your doctor may advise using it twice every day for a few months.
  • Topical fluorouracil— This is an anti-cancer drug, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU). It is usually applied directly to the skin.
  • PDT or Photodynamic treatment- In this treatment for sun-damaged skin, the actinic keratosis absorbs a light sensitizing solution that eventually destroys it.

Dry Skin

To treat dry skin, avoid hot showers and hot baths and use unscented soaps containing glycerin. Furthermore, use a moisturizer that contains lactic acid, urea, alpha-hydroxy acids, and/or sorbitol, etc.

Sunburn

Sunburn can be treated with simple home remedies such as sprays of cool water or applying a wet cloth to the burned area. However, if you find them ineffective, use non-prescription medication for pain such as aspirin or ibuprofen; unless your doctor has advised you against it due to other health risks.

 

What Are Sunspots and What Causes Them?

Sunspots are a very common condition among people older than 40 or those with fair skin. They are also known as solar lentigines or liver spots and often develop as flat brown spots after prolonged sun exposure.

Sunspots usually occur on parts of your body exposed to the sun the most, including your shoulders, face, forearms, and the back of your hands. Even though they are harmless, some people choose to get them treated due to cosmetic purposes.

Treatment For Sunspots

Some easy home remedies have been found to be effective in the treatment for sunspots, such as:

  • Topical creams: Creams containing glycolic acid, kojic acid, and hydroxyl acid are effective in treating sunspots.
  • Aloe: Aloe Vera contains compounds that can lighten hyperpigmentation.
  • Milk: It can be used in the form of buttermilk and sour milk to lighten your skin pigmentation.
  • Green tea: The extract of green tea helps in depigmenting your skin
  • Apple cider vinegar: It contains acetic acid that helps lighten sunspots if applied regularly.

However, in a severe case of sunspots, home remedies may not be entirely effective. This is when you should turn to a professional and research the following treatments:

  • Cryotherapy

It is a quick procedure where a professional uses liquid nitrogen solution to freeze off your sunspots.

 

  • Laser resurfacing

This procedure uses a device that sends light beams to your skin layers until the sunspots become invisible. It also enables new skin to grow. However, note that it can take more than ten days for your skin to heal.

 

  • Intense pulse light (IPL)

It heats and destroys melanin through light energy, removing sunspots. It may take multiple sessions to be effective, depending on the extent of treatment you require.

 

This treatment for sunspots is a minor cosmetic procedure that uses needles to prick your skin. To reduce discomfort, the professional may give you a topical anesthetic. The needling procedure induces collagen production to smoothen your skin.Other than lightening the appearance of sunspots, it also helps with acne scars. However, your skin may get dry, flakey, and red for several days.

At the end, prevention is always better than cure. Don’t forget to wear sunblock, drink plenty of water, and seek shade if you’re planning to spend the day under the sun. This is the only way you can keep sunspots and sun damage at bay, and your skin young and healthy.

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