If you have spent any time in the sun chances are you have a sunspot or two to prove it, particularly if you are older in age.
Sometimes referred to as age spots, liver spots, or solar lentigines, sunspots are very common and are generally nothing to be concerned about. They are, however, a warning that your skin has been overexposed to UV rays and can be a good reminder to keep an eye on your skin, always be sun safe, have regular skin checks and be aware of any skin lesions that may present.
What are sunspots?
Sunspots are the direct result of exposure to the suns UV rays, something that is present all year round, even in winter and overcast conditions.
Exposure to these UV rays causes your skin to increase it’s production of pigment, the component that gives our skin it’s colour. If this pigment is overproduced, a sunspot presents and in some more severe cases, skin cancer results.
What do they look like?
Sunspots appear as flat, darker patches of skin (tan to dark brown) that are found on areas of the body that have experienced high levels of sun exposure such as the face, shoulders, hands, chest, and the backs of hands.
How big can they be?
Generally, these spots can be anywhere from a small freckle size to about 2cm in diameter, sometime larger.
Are sunspots dangerous?
In majority of cases, no they are not dangerous. They are generally classed as an area of harmless pigmented skin that doesn’t need treatment of any kind. They can, however, particularly to the untrained eye, be confused with other sun-related spots that may be a sign of skin cancer.
Considering this, it’s very important to schedule regular skin checks with a professional and point out any skin concerns you may have, including sunspots.
Is there anything I can do to get rid of them?
Not naturally. While they may fade over time there no way to get rid of a sunspot as the skin has been permanently damaged. If you so choose however, there are cosmetic therapies that can assist in reducing their appearance.
What can I do to prevent sunspots and skin cancer?
The only way to prevent sunspots, and any kind of skin cancer for that matter, is to be super vigilant when it comes to sun protection. Here’s some helpful reminders of what you can do:
- Add sunscreen application to your daily morning routine, specifically to the face and hands, and any other area of the body that is exposed
- Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before leaving the house
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours if you are outside for extended periods, or more frequently if sweating or in the water
- If spending extended periods of time in the sun, wear long sleeves, sunglasses and a wide brim hat
- If possible, spend more time in the shade than in the sun
- Aim for sunscreen that is SPF30+ or more. Anything less won’t provide the protection you need
- If possible, avoid direct sun exposure between the hours of 10am and 4pm
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