Home Health Sun spots On Skin – What to detect and treat dark spots?

Sun spots On Skin – What to detect and treat dark spots?

26 min read
Sun spots On Skin

Lately, you might have been exposed to the sun, and now you can observe the apparent changes in your skin. If you also find discolored patches, you might have sun spots on skin or the blister for sunburns.

At times, sunburns can be painful, which may be either mild or severe. It is a sign, that dermatologists say, of over-exposure to sunlight, sans proper protection. It’s a call for you to treat your skin better and sooner to avoid further damage.

But fret not, because before you look for sunburn treatment, we have all the guidelines that you need to put through if you want your skin to glow and sparkle again!

Myth buster: Sunspots vs. sunburns

Sunburns are superficial and are an immediate reaction to your exposure to the sun. It may turn your skin red, tender, and in more severe cases itchy and painful. The severity also collates a medical condition of sun allergy or photosensitivity.

If you turn the table, then sunspots are something beyond the sunburns. The sun spots on skin are dark patches that appear due to the prolonged period of sun exposure over many years. The UV rays damage the skin that gives you long-term concerns. Unlike sunburns, they do not develop pink blisters but flat and brown patches which are burns of a higher degree.

Symptoms of sunspots

The usual symptoms of sun spots on skin vary with people. They are usually round or flat patches of discolored skin. The patches may be tanned, black or brown. These can appear on your skin when you expose yourself more often and also for a longer period.

They appear on those parts of the body which are exposed to the sun. So the affected body parts may be back of your palm, faces, backs, or shoulders.  The sunspots grow up to half an inch size, but at times these spots join together and those seem larger enough.

The sun spots on skin are often known as liver spots, though it has no connection with the liver. They are harmless as they are noncancerous and do not lead to any other health issues. However, you may suffer health problems if you undergo cosmetic treatments for removing sunspots.

Symptoms of sunburns

For some, soon after exposing the skin to the direct rays of the sun may show redness on the skin. While for others, redness appears after many hours and as long as 12 to 24 hours after the exposure.

Mild sunburn leads to redness of patches of skin, and sometimes the affected area feels tender. In severe cases, the skin develops blisters and they seem to be extremely painful. Such patients feel debilitated and they need immediate sunburn treatment.

The severe cases of sunburn are show symptoms of sudden feverish feeling with chills.  Along with these, patients may suffer from nauseous feeling and that leads to vomiting too. In further extreme cases, patients also show symptoms of low levels of blood pressure, extreme weakness, and hence faint.

Causes of sunspots

Sun spots on skin are the result of excessive production of the skin pigment, melanin. Often the doctors remain confused about the reason for the occurrence of sunspots on a person.

But, dermatologists are also of the opinion that aging of skin and exposure to different forms of ultraviolet rays for using tanning beds, etc. and sun exposure are the possible causes. The body parts that are maximally exposed to the sun get more of the sunspots.

Therefore, the areas like upper backs, back of your palms, faces, shoulders, and forearms get the sunspots.

Who is at risk?

People can get sunspots irrespective of their age, gender, and race. But studies have shown that in most of the cases, the risk factors are observant in people whose age has exceeded 40 years.

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Sun spots on skin also appear on people who have a fair complexion of skin and also have a previous history of bouts of sun exposure and tanning. It may appear if you have red hair or light-toned skin.


The doctors are likely to conduct a physical test to check your marks or spots on the skin. You may be asked some questions related to sunburn history, UV exposures, and symptoms.

Doctors also prefer photo tests if the exposures are minor and skin reactions are milder. This test shows whether you have photosensitivity.


Even though we know that sunspots are harmless, but you should be concerned if the sunspots grow in size and most importantly, turns darker over time.  There might be chances of new spots growing even after you have started protecting your skin. When the spots grow darker and their appearance changes, chances of having melanoma are high too.

Melanoma is the first sign of skin cancer, so you need to approach a dermatologist without further delay.  The sun spots on skin need to be examined if the spots are darker in color and constantly growing size with irregular borders. The doctor also checks whether the spots are tender, painful, itchy red and even bleed or not.

Treatment with medications

The dermatologist often recommends bleaching creams to fade your sunspots. The bleaching creams consist of retinoids like tretinoin and hydroquinone. These creams take longer while maybe months to fade away the sunspots.

However, these bleaching creams turn your skin more sensitive to the sun and increase the chances of damage by the UV rays. Then, you will be required to wear sunscreens all the time while you are under treatment. But apparently, it is also safe to wear sunscreen even after the sunspots have faded away.  To bust a common misconception of not wearing sunscreen on gloomy days, yes, you need sunscreens on cloudy-rainy days too.

Professional treatments

If in case, the symptoms do not show signs of any severe issue, then there are professional treatments for your sun spots on skin which are as follows:

Chemical peels

Chemical peels have acid solutions which, when applied to the skin, let the sunspots to peel off naturally and new skin to grow in place. You may have burning sensations that last for long and maybe painful at times.

Doctors prescribe pain medicines and cold compressions to heal your discomforts.


In microdermabrasion, an applicator with abrasive tip gently plucks off the outer skin, and further suction removes dead skin. It is not painful and may cause mild redness or tightness after you undergo this procedure.

Intense pulse light (IPL)

IPL reduces the sunspots as it heats and destroys the melanin with pulses of light energy. You have to book for several sessions to slowly remove the spots. Each session might take less than 30 minutes.


An in-house procedure of cryotherapy is relatively quick in treating skin lesions or sunspots. The liquid solution of nitrous oxide or liquid nitrogen freezes of the sunspots.


This treatment method uses thin needles for minimal invasion into the skin. A topical anesthetic is given to the patient before beginning the procedure. This reduces the chances of having any discomfort out of the pricking job.

This process of sunburn treatment increases the rate of producing collagen to tighten the skin and also reduces age spots, acne scars, and sunspots. Micro-needling may bring about slight redness of the skin post this procedure and even cause dryness.

Laser resurfacing

Laser beams are directed towards your skin until the sunspots lighten and turn invisible. This allows the skin to be grown on its own within 10-21 days.

Treatment at home

  • Aloe: Aloe Vera contains phytochemicals like a loin or allusion that is effective in lightening sunspots.
  • Milk: Milk or sour milk and buttermilk contain lactic acid that lightens sun spots and melasma. Apply it with cotton put on the dark patches for 25 to 20 minutes helps in sunburn treatment.
  • Red onion: Skin extracts of dried red onion have ingredients that are believed to reduce the sunspots.
  • Castor oil: Rub a little of the castor oil on your dark spots both in the morning as well as evening to find the visible changes.
  • Vitamin C and Vitamin E: Topical creams with Vitamin C or Vitamin E are effective in protecting skin from UVA, UVB, and further sun damage.
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Not every dark spot is a sunspot

Dark spots can appear on the skin, and you might consider it to be a usual sunspot of sorts. You might even think that it has appeared due to sun exposure at the cost of a lower level of sun protection that you have been practicing of late. But did you know that all your dark spots are not sunspots and they indicate something else which are as follow:


Melasma affects the skin around the nose, cheeks, upper lip, and forehead when it is excessively exposed to the sun. It usually appears on the face and turns those patches of skin grey-brown or brown.

Hormonal issues trigger melasma and hence majorly affects women. It can be a common issue during pregnancy and is considered as “mask of pregnancy.” However, melasma is non-cancerous and requires an aesthetic concern.


White-skinned people with reddish hair tint get freckles, which is an inherited feature. These are flat and brown spots that are prominent when under the sun and especially in the summers. They fade away or disappear in winter, but become invisible with age.

Skin cancer

Skin Cancer Foundation states, 1 out of every 5 Americans who are aged above 70 years get skin cancer. This condition arises from over-exposure to UV rays from tanning beds, sun, or genetic mutation.

Sun protection 101

As we all know of the common adage, “Prevention is better than cure,” it is best to avoid maximum exposure to the sun rays. This is the ultimate way to avoid the beginning of sun damage. As of now, it has its costs to be paid, whether in terms of money and damage to the skin.

So, you should limit our day-outs at least during the phases of the day when the sun rays are maximally intense and hotter.

Minimizing sun exposure

The different ways to minimize the time of exposing the skin to the sun are as follows:

  • Always wear your sunblock cream when you are out of your house and do not avoid it even if it is a cloudy or gloomy day
  • Wear a hat with a wider brim on very hot or summer days
  • Sit in shady locations to avoid sun spots on skin
  • Protect your eyes with sunglasses
  • Avoid going out when the sun is above your head or when you find it shining the brightest
  • Always reapply your sunscreens at regular intervals, which is the easiest sunburn treatment.

Choose your sun-blocks wisely

Nowadays, you will find a broader range of sunscreen lotions available in the market. These preparations come with varying options like UVA and UVB protection and higher rates of SPFs too.

The UVA and UVB filters are required to be present in your sunscreens as they provide the total protection of your skin from these rays. The UVA and UVB rays of the sun largely contribute to aging of the skin and also alleviate the risks of skin cancer, which require sunburn treatment.

With the increased rates of skin cancer among people around the world, your choice of sunscreens matters the most. It can be a lotion or any other form of preparation that may be gel or cream-based.

Choose a sunscreen that has broad-spectrum protection with UVA and UVB filters and with a minimum SPF of 25. Also, for treating sun spots on skin, consider your skin texture, whether it is oily, dry, combination or sensitive to choose from a gel, cream or lotion for sunscreens.

Sunspots are usually harmless to the level it does not cause cancers. But treating them is also a personal preference. If you are concerned about how your skin is changing its appearance and skin spots bother you then book an appointment with your doctor at the earliest.

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