Your Guide to Treating and Removing Sun Spots

Sunspots, which are also referred to as solar lentigines or liver spots, are surprisingly common. Anyone can get sunspots, but those of us with fair skin or are over 40 are at the most risk for getting sunspots. While sunspots are harmless and non-cancerous, they are unattractive. Keep reading to learn more about removing sunspots.

Sunspot Risks

Sunspots are harmless and are not a health risk. They don’t need to be treated, but since they are unsightly, you may consider trying to remove or reduce the appearance of your blemishes.  Just by looking at the spot, your doctor will be able to tell you the difference between a sunspot or if it’s something more serious like skin cancer.

Treatments for sunspots are usually safe, but like any procedure, there is always some risk. Which is why you will want to talk to your doctor before trying any at-home remedies. If you are receiving professional treatment, make sure it’s done by a board-certified dermatologist, so you can minimize any risk and get the best results. You will want to see a doctor immediately if you notice that your sunspot is dark, growing in size, itchy, red, painful or bleeding, has an irregular border and or has an unusual color.

Preventing Sun Spots

You can also prevent sun spots by limiting your exposure to UVB and UVA rays. You can do this by avoiding the sun between 10 AM and 3 PM. You’ll also want to make sure you always apply sunscreen and reapply it every two hours.

You can also use makeup that has sunscreen. You’ll also want to make sure you cover as much of skin as possible with clothing and hats when you’re in the sun.

Removing Sun Spots

Sunspots look like flat brown spots that appear after sun exposure when UV radiation causes melanocytes, or pigmented skin cells, to multiply. These spots can vary in size and shape and tend to pop up on parts of your body that get the most sun exposure — such as your face, forearms, shoulders, and the backs of your hands.

There are many at-home and professional treatments you can do to either lessen the appearance of or remove sunspots. The following are some options.

At-Home Treatments

Here are some at-home treatments you can try to help remove or fade sunspots at home.

Aloe Vera

Some studies show active compounds in aloe (aloesin and aloin) can lighten sunspots as well as other hyperpigmentations.

Licorice Extract

Some active ingredients in licorice extract may be able to lighten sunspots as well as other skin discoloration that becomes worsened by sun exposure. Skin discolorations, such as melasma, are common among pregnant women and are sometimes referred to as “the mask of pregnancy.”

You’ll notice that a lot of topical creams have licorice extract to lighten sunspots.

Vitamin C & E

These natural antioxidants protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays, as well as promote the production of collagen. When vitamin C is taken with vitamin E it can protect your skin against sun damage, lighten sun spots and improve your skin’s overall health.

Apple Cider Vinegar

The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar might be able to lighten your skin pigmentation, which can help lighten sunspots.

Green & Black Tea

You can try to apply cool green or black tea bags to your skin to fade sunspots. There isn’t scientific backing for this, but green tea extract has been shown to depigment skin.

2011 study found that black tea water can have a skin lightening effect when applied twice daily for six days a week over four weeks.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice has been used as a home remedy to lighten skin and hair. You will also see lemon juice in skin lightening creams. Lemon juice has been shown to lighten and fade sunspots.

Over the Counter Creams

There are many topical over-the-counter creams available as well. These creams, when applied to sunspots will fade and lighten these spots. You’ll want to look for creams that include glycolic acid, hydroquinone, hydroxy acid, kojic acid, and deoxyarbutin, as these ingredients work the best on sunspots.

Professional Treatments

There are also professional treatments that when performed by skin care professional can help remove sun spots or reduce their appearance.

Laser Resurfacing

This procedure uses a wand-like device that beams light on to the skin, This light removes sun damage layer by layer, allowing new skin to grow in its place. This procedure can take anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours, depending on how many sunspots you are treating.

The healing process for this can take anywhere from 10 to 21 days.

Intense Pulse Light (IPL)

This treatment uses pulses of light energy to directly target sunspots on your skin. The light heats and destroys the melanin, which is what removes discolored spots on the skins.

This session usually takes less than 30 minutes and pain is reported to be minimal. The number of IPL sessions a person needs will vary from person to person.

Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy can remove sunspots from the skin as well as other skin lesions. It does this by freezing sunspots off with a liquid nitrogen solution.

Nitrous oxide might also be used instead of liquid nitrogen to remove dark sunspots. This is because these spots are less aggressive and less likely to blister. Cryotherapy only takes a few minutes and is mildly uncomfortable rather than painful.

Chemical Peels

This treatment involves an acid solution which is applied to the skin. This solution will create a controlled wound that evenly peels off and makes way for new skin.

Chemical peels can be painful, and can sometimes cause a burning sensation that can last up to a few minutes. But you can treat this sensation with a cold compress or over the counter medication for pain.

Microdermabrasion

This process involves gently removing the outermost layer of the skin by using a special applicator that has an abrasive tip. This is then followed by the suction that removes any dead skin.

This takes exactly an hour, with little to no pain, and no anesthetic is needed. Your skin might feel tight and appear pink after the treatment, but this is only temporary.

Remove Sun Spots Today

Now that you know everything about removing sun spots, try these at home and or professional treatments today. Remember if your sunspot changes shape or itches, see a doctor immediately. For more information on skincare, check out our blog!

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