What are Sunspots?
Though the sun’s golden warmth on the skin may feel good, it can wreak havoc at times on your skin. Sunspots are one of the most common and most visible signs of sun damage —known as age spots, liver spots or solar lentigo. They vary in size and usually appear on the shoulders, hands and face — the areas of your skin that get the most exposure to the sun. (x) (x)
Sunspots are flat portions on your skin that show increased pigmentation. They usually appear brown or black and are harmless, painless. Sunspots do not necessarily need medical attention. However, they could indicate a more severe type of skin damage or skin cancer. (x) (x)
Causes of Sunspots
Sunspots result from overactive melanin, a pigment in the skin that gives your skin its color. Ultraviolet light from the sun causes your body to produce more melanin, and prolonged sun exposure results in high melanin concentrations. But instead of spreading evenly, the pigment collects on some areas of your skin, resulting in sunspots. (x) (x)
Risk Factors for Having Sunspots
People of all genders, backgrounds, lifestyles and ages are prone to sunspots. However, several factors increase the risk of developing sun-related discoloration. Some causes include: (x)
- Fair Skin
Individuals with fair skin are more likely to suffer from sun-related skin damage because they have less melanin, which helps protect the skin from ultraviolet rays. However, even though the risk is lower, you are still at risk of having sun-damaged skin if you have darker skin. (x) (x) (x)
Individuals older than 55 years are at a higher risk of getting sunspots and other forms of UV-related skin damage because the skin becomes more fragile with age. (x) (x) The blood vessels that transport nutrient-rich blood to the skin surface weaken, and the layer of fat beneath the skin thins out. As a result, this increases the risk of skin damage. (x)
The active ingredients in certain medications increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun, which leaves people more prone to sun-related skin damage. Some of these medications treat acne, pain and allergies. These medications include antibiotics, antifungals, antihistamines and cholesterol lowering drugs. (x) Several cosmetic products enhance your skin’s appearance and reduce signs of skin damage. But they also increase the risk of developing sunspots if they contain alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). These products that contain AHA shed or exfoliate your surface skin. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, individuals who continuously use AHA creams are 18 percent more sensitive to sunlight. Some drugs also contain AHA. (x)
- Weakened Immune System
The immune system plays a crucial role in healing wounds, not only in your body but also on the skin. (x) There are specific immune cells in the skin that react to sunlight. A study found that Langerhans cells aid in protecting the skin from UV damage. In patients with lupus — an autoimmune disease — the cells did not function properly, making the patients more at risk for sun damage. (x)
If the immune system is weak or compromised by chronic diseases like HIV/AIDS, then the skin cannot effectively resist and repair the damage, which causes fine lines, sunspots, wrinkles, and other signs of aging. (x) (x)
- Indoor Tanning
Sunspots may also result from commercial tanning beds and lamps. Indoor tanning can age the skin, causing wrinkles, loss of elasticity and age spots. Despite popular belief, tanning beds are not safer than the sun. (x)
Other Types of Skin Spots
Understanding the different types of skin spots may help you feel more at ease about your skin condition. These spots all let you know the importance of protecting your skin from the sun. The different skin spots include:
Melasma is a type of skin spot that causes dark patches, mainly on the face — the upper lip, nose and cheeks. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, they are most common in women, especially those in their 20s.
Like sunspots, melasma becomes more severe with sun exposure. But hormonal changes also triggered it. It is very common during pregnancy. This condition, called chloasma, and the medical industry often nicknamed it the “mask of pregnancy.” But unlike sunspots, melasma is more common in women with darker skin. (x) (x)
Freckles are areas with extra melanin pigment, like sunspots, but they are smaller. They are hereditary, meaning infants can carry the gene at birth, but they appear with exposure to sunlight. Freckles become less noticeable as people age. Though they are not dangerous, they may show that the skin is sensitive to UV light and at risk of sun damage. (x)
Physicians can usually diagnose sunspots by examining the skin visually, especially if the patient shows other factors like age and frequent sun exposure. But sometimes, the physician will perform a biopsy and remove a small piece of the spot to evaluate it for abnormalities and rule out skin cancer. (x)
When to See a Doctor About Sunspots
Sunspots are harmless and rarely need medical attention. However, people should seek medical care if the spots change in appearance. These changes could be signs of a severe form of skin cancer known as melanoma. (x) (x)
- Dark pigmentation or unusual colors
- Change in size
- Irregular border
- Itching, tenderness, swelling or bleeding
- Change in texture
- Sores that don’t heal
Treatment for Sunspots
- Topical Treatments
Topical creams and lotions can help lighten sun spots gradually over time. However, patients should consult a doctor or a dermatologist to choose a treatment. Skin lightening creams can irritate the skin and even contain mercury, which is damaging to the skin. (x)
- Cosmetic Procedures
- Laser Treatment
Laser treatments fade spots quicker than topical treatments and have longer results. They have a few side effects. The treatment may cause the areas to darken temporarily and may cause the skin to crust.
In this procedure, a doctor applies the liquid nitrogen to the sunspots to freeze them and destroy the cells.
This procedure is a non-invasive treatment that smooths away age spots by removing the dead surface layer of the skin. (x) It may cause red or flaky skin for a few days. Microdermabrasion usually combines with a chemical peel for better results.
- Chemical Peel
A chemical peel uses a chemical solution to exfoliate the skin and remove dead skin cells.
Prevention is the best solution to handling sunspots. Proactive solutions for sunspots include:
- People can ward off sunspots by limiting their exposure to UVB and UVA rays. (x)
- Avoiding tanning beds (x)
- Applying sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every two hours
- Choosing lip balm with SPF 30
- Avoiding the sun during the hottest hours of the day, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Covering the skin with hats, sunglasses, long sleeves, and long pants
Supplements for Skin Health
Taking supplements for the skin both orally and topically is a traditional system of medicine for skin health. Before attempting a new supplement, talk to your healthcare provider to see if it’s right for you. Some supplements include:
- Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an important antioxidant. It offers protection against UVA and UVB rays and can reduce uneven pigmentation in the skin. You find it in fresh fruits and vegetables, but supplements can provide health benefits as well. The suggested serving size is 1,000 mg per day. (x)
- Vitamin A
Frequently used in cosmetics, vitamin A helps with photoprotection. (x) This means that it protects the skin against sun damage. Carrots, pumpkins, mangoes, sweet potatoes and papayas are rich in beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. As a dietary supplement, take 30 mg of vitamin A powder daily.
- Vitamin E
Research suggests that vitamin E topicals and dietary supplements can help protect the skin against sun damage and lighten sunspots. (x) Foods rich in vitamin E include avocados, almonds and sunflower seeds. (x) Take vitamin E powder in a daily serving size of 500 mg to 1,000 mg with meals.
- Aloe Vera Extract Powder
Aloesin is an active compound in aloe vera, which may effectively lighten hyperpigmentation, including sunspots. (x) Take 1,000 mg of aloe vera extract powder once daily with water as a dietary supplement.
- Green Tea Extract
With antioxidant properties, green tea extract benefits overall health and has anti-inflammatory properties and can help repair pigmentation, according to a review published in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery. (x)
- Apple Cider Vinegar
For decades, science has supported niacinamide for skin sunspots, cancer and other health concerns. Also known as vitamin B3, it’s a suitable component in many cosmetic products. Research shows that aging skin loses its metabolism of cells. Niacinamide reverses the skin’s aging process by triggering the coenzymes in the skin to keep the metabolism occurring. Oral supplements are also beneficial. (x) (x)
For over 25 centuries, Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha medicine used sandalwood for many ailments. It contains components that benefit aging skin and assists in dermatological treatments. The primary application of sandalwood is rejuvenating and restoring wrinkled skin. An application in skin care and aromatherapy, sandalwood can help moisturize, heal and brighten the skin. (x)
Where to Buy Supplements for Sunspots and Skin Health?
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Are you interested in trying any of these supplements mentioned in this article as a possible solution to helping you with your sunspots and skin health? Contact BulkSupplements.com to place an order today.
The Bottom Line
Sunspots are a common sign of skin damage that results from exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. They are small, dark-colored spots that appear on the areas of the skin most exposed to the sun, such as the face, hands, arms, lips and shoulders.
Your skin becomes exposed to sunlight, and the body produces more melanin to protect against UV rays. Sunspots form when melanin concentrates in certain areas instead of distributing across the skin, which is a natural occurrence.
Sunspots rarely require any treatment. However, some treatment procedures can help to make the spots less noticeable. If sunspots change shape, size, color or texture, they could signify more severe skin damage or skin cancer. The best way to prevent sunspots is to protect the skin from sun damage with SPF and proper coverage. Supplements can also boost the health of your skin both topically and orally.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.