Best way to combat sun spots

Question

Hi Dr, I noticed lately that I am getting sun spots on my face, mostly on my cheeks. I am hardly ever in the sun and I do not leave home without sunscreen on my face. I have both dark brown and white spots. What can I use to get rid of them? Can I get rid of age spots?

Submitted by Joelene Ramsewak on 10 March 2015

Answer

Hi reader, sun spots are areas of skin that have darkened with time, more than the surrounding skin. This is due to a greater concentration of the skin pigment melanin, in the skin cells around sensitive pigment-producing cells known as melanocytes. The sun-induced DNA damage that takes place in the melanocytes can take many years to manifest in visible pigmentation changes, so even though you are correctly avoiding the sun recently, older damage may only now be showing through, hence the term ‘age spots’. DNA damage can also lead to loss of pigment or death of melanocytes and this is responsible for the white patches. These white patches are permanent and can only be camouflaged by covering makeup. Dark sunspots can be treated by concentrated acid peels, LASER treatments or freezing. These treatments also carry the risk of permanent pigment destruction and can leave white marks. The treated areas can be further treated using vitamin C serums, melanocyte suppressors and vitamin A creams. Sunspots can involve DNA damage to such a degree that skin cancer can begin in them over time. Have your doctor check all sunspots annually for safety.

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