Have you been noticing dark spots appearing on your skin?
If so, you may be wondering where they came from and what you can do about them.
Sunspots, also known as age spots, lentigines or melasma, are caused by sun damage and by hormonal changes over time.
They are most likely to appear on areas that get the most sun exposure, such as your face, arms, hands, chest, shoulders and legs. When ultraviolet light from the sun hits your skin, it triggers an overproduction of melanin, which causes dark spots to form. This is a condition known as hyperpigmentation.
The best way to prevent sunspots is to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and to cover up as much skin as possible so it is blocked from UV rays. These protective measures can also keep existing sunspots from getting darker or larger.
If you’re already concerned about the appearance of sunspots, here are some of the treatment options that are available.
Your dermatologist may recommend topical treatments that can be applied directly to your skin. For sunspots, two common treatments are hydroquinone and chemical peels.
Hydroquinone is a skin-lightening bleach that can diminish the appearance of sunspots and melasma for a more even complexion.
You can purchase a 2% hydroquinone product over the counter, while a more potent formulation requires a prescription. Some patients may experience minor irritation and dryness. Don’t use hydroquinone if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
A chemical peel involves application of an acid solution to the surface of your skin. Medical spas use a higher potency, giving you the best results. The ingredients in a chemical peel cause damaged cells to peel off, making way for healthy new skin underneath. Some patients may experience a temporary burning sensation during the peel and skin flaking for 7-10 days after the peel, but it is a very tolerable and effective treatment option.
State-of-the-art lasers are very useful in treating hyperpigmentation, including sunspots, as well as many other skin conditions. Two options for treating sunspots include Intense Pulsed Light (or IPL) and Q-Switch pigment removal.
Intense pulsed light (IPL) is a laser treatment that uses photo thermolysis to treat many skin conditions including hyperpigmentation, vascular lesions and rosacea.
It improves the complexion and clarity of your skin, and most patients see positive results within 1 to 3 sessions. It is safe and effective to use on many areas including the face, neck, décolletage, arms, hands and legs.
During treatment, the laser produces a bright flash of light that feels like a light elastic band sensation. Some patients experience redness and slight warming of the treated area, which usually subsides within an hour. Within 24 to 48 hours, a darkening of pigmented spots is common. Within a few weeks, the lesions flake off to reveal a more even skin tone.
The Q-Switch laser uses a laser energy pulse to treat sunspots, as well as freckles and tattoo removal. The pulsing laser releases the unwanted pigment into the skin, where it is reabsorbed and naturally disposed of by the body.
If you’d like more information about treating sunspots, we encourage you to contact Cayce Medical Spa for an appointment.
Our caring team will answer your questions and help you choose the treatment that works best for you. We look forward to developing a personalized skin care plan to help you look and feel your best!