Skin 101: Sun Spots

March 5

Early stages of pigmentation is what got me to start wearing Sunscreen (SPF 50) every day. This month, I got my skin guru, Rebecca Treston at Euromed Clinic to share what causes sun spots and how to get rid of them.

Sun spots are technically known as ‘solar lentigines’ and are areas of darker coloured skin are not caused by age but are a direct result of the damaging effects of sun exposure. In fact, they are an epidermal pigmentation due to UV damage. They appear over time, commonly on the face, back of hands, arms and legs and can vary in size from being as small as a freckle up to half an inch in size. While sun spots are not caused by aging, they are more common among people over 50 and do not appear as frequently in younger adults, as this is because they can appear over time rather than immediately after sun exposure.
Sun spots grow on the top surface layer of skin and have the capacity to grow both individually or as a cluster. The more time we spend in the direct sun, the more our skin will begin to produce an excess amount of skin pigment (called ‘melanin’), leading to sun spots. Sun exposure is of course the major factor, but these things are known to make things worse:
• Lack of Exercise
• Smoking
• Tanning beds
• Ultraviolet (UV) light exposure
• Unhealthy dieting
The goal of treating sun spots is to lighten the affected skin, or promote the growth of healthy skin in the area. This can be accomplished with medical procedures such as laser treatments that aim to penetrate the layers of skin. Using a Q Switch laser or a treatment such as the PICO laser, melanocytes can be destroyed in the affected area, thus eliminating the sun spots.
Of course, the most effective way to stop sun spots is to stay out of the sun. We all need just a little sun on our skins every day to stay healthy – but a few minutes early in the morning or late in the afternoon should be enough. At these times of day the sun is less intense than in the middle of the day. If you do need to be in the sun for longer or at peak times of the day, then make sure you always apply plenty of high factor sunscreen and wear loose, long clothing to prevent sun exposure. We have all heard that too much exposure to the sun can be dangerous – it can irritate and damage our skin, but remember it can also lead to our skin aging prematurely and no one wants to look older before their time!