It seems like it happens overnight. One day you have beautiful clear skin, and the next morning group of brown spots has popped up on your arm.
If you noticed similar spots on your parents’ skin when you were young, then you know that this is just a part of getting older. But if you have no reference point for the arrival of sun, age, or liver spots, then you might think that their sudden appearance is a red flag for something worse to come.
The good news is that most of the time, there’s no cause for concern. It’s completely natural for sun spots, age spots, liver spots, and pigmented lesions to show up on your skin as you age.
How Did They Get There?
Age spots, sun spots, and pigmented lesions are caused by consistent sun or tanning bed exposure. When UV (Ultraviolet ) rays come into contact with the skin, melanin production intensifies.
Melanin is the natural pigment that gives your skin color, so if it goes into hyper-production, you will end up with high concentrations of melanin or clumps that appear as tan or dark brown oval areas.
The spots can range in size from tiny dots to about 1/2 inch across. Once they appear, they will never fade on their own. Because they come from exposure to the sun’s rays, they usually appear on your face, hands, shoulders, and arms.
You can expect sun, age, and liver spots to start showing up as you get closer to 50 because it takes time for the sun’s damage to accumulate. However, if you spend a lot of time in the sun, spots may start to appear much earlier.
When Should I Be Concerned About Spots on My Skin?
Sun, age, and liver spots do not pose a health concern. Generally speaking, they are only a cosmetic concern— meaning they pose no health risk. Most likely, you just don’t like how they look.
However, anytime you see one grow, become black, or bleed, you need to consult with a doctor. You should also have spots checked out if they contain an unusual combination of colors or have irregular borders.
Can They Be Prevented?
Here are tips you can take to prevent these spots from forming.
1. Wear Protective Clothing
Look for clothing labeled Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF). The higher the UPF rating, the fewer UV rays will get through to your skin. Choose a tightly woven nylon or nylon-polyester blend in a dark color for the best protection.
2. The Shade Is Your Friend
Whenever possible, stay in the shade. Choose a shady spot under trees or awnings if you will be outside for more than 15 minutes.
If you are participating in an activity that requires that you be in the full sun, make sure that there is shade nearby that you can retreat to.
3. Wear a Hat
Hats protect your head and face from the sun. Choose a hat with a wide brim that reaches all the way around your head for the best protection.
4. Keep Kids Safe
Children under 6 months old should not be in the direct sun. Their skin needs extra protection because it has not fully matured.
Dress them in clothes that will protect them from the sun’s rays, put on a hat to protect their little bald heads, and keep them in the shade.
5. Limit Your Exposure
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends limiting your exposure to the sun, “especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun’s rays are most intense.”
6. Use Sunscreen Properly
- Use sunscreen even when it is cloudy.
- Choose a water-resistant sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB Rays.
- Apply it 15-30 minutes before sun exposure.
- Reapply every two hours unless you are sweating or swimming, then you will need to reapply every hour.
7. Take Vitamin D
Your body processes vitamin D using the sun’s rays. If you use sunscreen daily or wearing highly protective clothing, you may not be getting enough vitamin D. Have your Vitamin D levels checked and take a supplement if needed.
8. Be Aware of Cloudy Days
UV rays can penetrate clouds and windows. So, don’t think just because it is cloudy or sunlight is filtered through a window, it won’t have the same effect.
9. Watch Out for Reflections
Areas like bodies of water, snow, and concrete surfaces reflect UV rays more than others, so be extra cautious if you are around them.
10. Educate Yourself About Your Skin
Your skin is the largest organ of your body. Remember, it:
- Protects you from the elements and microbes.
- Assists in the regulation of body temperature
- Senses touch, heat, and cold
But even though it protects you and takes care of you, it also relies on you to protect and take care of it.
What Can I Do to Get Rid of Them?
There are treatments you can try at home, but they don’t work for all people in all cases. Contact us today to go over our professional treatments.
Contact Us Today
Using these protective tips is an excellent start to keeping your skin healthy and happy. If you are concerned your skin may have already succumbed to sun damage, make an appointment today.
We’ll check out any areas of concern, diagnose any conditions, and prescribe a treatment plan if necessary. Contact us today!