Despite the cooler fall temperatures, you may have noticed that the summer sun left its mark on your skin. Sun spots on your skin’s surface may seem like merely an aesthetic flaw, but your dermatologist needs to check them out.
Chronic sun exposure is the primary cause of unwanted sun spots. They are also referred to as actinic keratosis or solar keratosis. Sun spots develop when UV light accelerates the production of melanin in the skin. This creates a localized area of uneven pigment or color. Fair-skinned people are more at risk for sun spots due to their increased sensitivity to sun exposure. Likewise, sun spots are more commonly found on older adults since our skin’s ability to protect itself against UV rays diminishes with age.
What Do Sun Spots Look Like?
Sun spots are dry, scaly bumps on your skin that are typically reddish-brown in color. These flat, tan bumps are often found on the neck, arms, shoulders, face or back of the hands.
Do I Need My Sun Spots Removed?
Patients with sun spots should consult a dermatologist for a proper diagnosis and screening for skin cancer. While sun spots are not a sign of actual skin cancer, they can be considered as pre-cancerous lesions that could soon develop into squamous cell carcinoma if left untreated.
How Are Sun Spots Removed?
The great news about sun spots is that they can be effectively treated and removed. A solar keratosis is usually removed by freezing it with liquid nitrogen or with a chemical peel. These are both quick and effective procedures that your dermatologist can perform in the office. If your sun spots are unresponsive to treatment, or if they recur, a biopsy may be recommended to rule out skin cancer.
How to Prevent Sun Spots?
If you’ve never dealt with sun spots, consider yourself fortunate. However, just because you have never had one, doesn’t mean they will not develop in the future. Staying on top of your skin’s sun protection is essential. Wear an SPF of 15 or higher and look for sunscreen that offers both UVA and UVB protection. Make sure to reapply your sunscreens after two hours or following swimming or sweating.
Remember that sun spots represent a clear indication that the sun has damaged your skin. If you are regretting the long hours you spent under the Georgia sun this summer, let us help. Call Spectrum Dermatology of Atlanta today.