How to Treat and Remove Sun Spots on Your Face

What Is Solar Lentigo?

Solar lentigo, or sun spots, are darkened patches that appear on the skin in key locations that have been frequently exposed to the sun. While they are most common in individuals with fair skin, anyone can develop sun spots.

Most often, sun spots affect those who are 40 years of age or older. Those who suffer from solar lentigo often believe that the presence of sun spots makes them appear older than they actually are. Understandably, this can cause a lot of distress. It may even cause anxiety or depression.

Luckily, solar lentigo can be alleviated.

What Causes Sun Spots?

If you've looked at your face or hands recently and discovered odd marks on them, then you might be concerned. Is it skin cancer? Where did they come from? Sun spots are caused by overexposure to the sun. They can appear after a particularly harsh exposure or develop over a long period of time.

Most often, sun spots are caused by exposure to the sun that occurs over a long period of time. That's why many people end up with sun spots on their hands. Few take the time to apply sunscreen to their hands. As a result, the skin is constantly exposed to the harsh UV rays of the sun.

Spots start to form where the skin has been damaged by UV radiation. These spots, sometimes called age spots, can make your hands appear older than they are. Since we use our hands for practically everything, they're constantly on display for others to see.

Men and women may worry about what others think of their hands and may even feel that their hands look older than the rest of their body or face.

Yet the hands aren't the only place where sun spots can form. You can also develop sun spots on the face. If you didn't regularly apply sunscreen to your face throughout your life, then you may develop premature wrinkles and sun spots.

These spots can affect your otherwise youthful appearance. You may worry that others are distracted by the spots on your face.

Solar lentigo is caused by UV radiation damage. Your skin is essentially an organ. When exposed to radiation, cells become damaged. As you grow older, it's harder for your skin to repair the UV damage. This results in darkening of the skin and the appearance of age spots.

How to Remove Sun Spots

You may wonder, “Can sun spots on the face be removed?” Thankfully, the answer is yes. There are several sun spot treatments that have been proven effective to lighten the skin and return it to its former youthful complexion.

One of those methods is using a topical cream. Creams that contain prescription lightening agents and some natural ingredients can sometimes be effective. However, they require constant use and the benefits will likely end after you stop using them.

Other topical creams that are prescribed by professionals may be more effective. They contain certain ingredients that are designed to help your skin heal itself. One way they might do this is by actually damaging the skin again. When your body repairs the damaged areas, other ingredients in the cream stimulate a boost in collagen production.

Collagen is essential in restoring your youthful appearance because it brings back your original complexion. It lightens the skin and makes it smoother, and sun spots can fade and disappear. Because sun spots are typically brown or red in color, having them lightened can have a dramatic effect on the appearance of your hands.

There are also other methods for treating sun spots. One is laser resurfacing. During this procedure, a device that resembles a wand is passed along the target areas. The device uses light energy to damage the sun spots. The body will then repair the skin with new patches that are lighter and smoother. Laser resurfacing can be done both on the hands and on the face.

Another method is using intense pulsed light, or IPL. In this treatment, a device is used that targets the specific color of the sun spot. It then damages the melanin of that color. As a result, the skin repairs itself with the proper color. This procedure typically requires a few visits, depending on how many sun spots need to be treated.

Even cryotherapy may be able to help treat sun spots. During cryotherapy, the sun spots are frozen with liquid nitrogen. This kills the cells and forces the body to produce new cells. Because liquid nitrogen can sometimes cause blistering, a different solution, carbon dioxide, may be used instead. This solution has been shown to be quite effective in treating darker sun spots.

Microabrasion is another method used to treat sun spots. In this procedure, a device is used to remove the topmost layer of skin where the sun spot is located. Suction is used to then remove the dead skin.

Finally, one of the most effective and easiest procedures is a chemical peel. The topical cream that you use may be a chemical peel. Certain acids and ingredients that make up the chemical peel work effectively to restore your youthful appearance by damaging sun spots and encouraging collagen production. Chemical peels can also be used to treat other skin problems that occur due to aging. Their frequent use can result in a more youthful appearance.

Are Sun Spots Dangerous?

One good thing about sun spots is that they're typically not dangerous. They're an aesthetic concern. However, some patches that look like sun spots may actually be skin cancer instead. If you have a spot that is oddly shaped or raised or doesn't seem like the rest of your sun spots, then you should have a doctor inspect it.

Because sun spots are located in areas where the sun damaged the skin, there's always a chance that some spots you see may be cancerous. Skin cancer is treatable, although you should undergo treatment as soon as possible to keep it from spreading.

As for sun spots themselves, they're harmless. At most, they're a visual nuisance. Those who are quite uncomfortable with their sun spots may suffer depression or anxiety because of them. They may feel grief over how their complexion has changed. They may experience anxiety because they may worry about what others will think.

These feelings will often disappear after receiving sun spot treatment. Once your skin returns to its lighter and smoother appearance, you'll feel confident about how you look once more.

How to Prevent Sun Spots

If you don't want sun spots to occur or you don't want them to return, then there are a few things you can do. The first is to wear sunscreen. By reducing the amount of damage your skin experiences from UV radiation, you can prevent the emergence of sun spots. Besides applying sunscreen to your face, you should also apply it to the back of your hands and any other exposed skin.

You can also choose to avoid the sun during the hours in which it's at its strongest, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

If you want to wear makeup, then you should look for makeup brands that add UV protection to their products.

You can also wear protective gear. For example, a hat can shade your face and protect the top of your head. Gloves can protect your hands.