We’ve all seen them, and we don’t want them. Sunspots are flat, brown spots that slowly appear on your skin as the years pass. They most often pop up on skin that has a lot of exposure to the sun. So, if you’re a sun-worshipping goddess, chances are these uninvited guests may pay you a visit.
Sunspots are also known as liver spots, but those tend to be found on older people. Thankfully, these unwanted spots don’t pose any real risk to your health. So, unless you don’t like the appearance of them, there is no real reason to get them removed or try to reduce their appearance. However, if you’re not a fan of their dark appearance, there are ways to get them removed or to fade them.
But the big question is: what is the difference between sunspots and freckles? Are they the same?
Let’s explore the difference between these and learn more about tackling sunspots on your skin.
What's The Difference Between Freckles And Sunspots?
Sunspots look like freckles on most people, but there are a few differences. The first is that freckles tend to be more visible on people with lighter skin types.
Did you know that freckles are actually found within the DNA of people who have them?
Without getting too sciencey, the MC1R gene controls whether or not someone is likely to get freckles. This is the same gene that determines skin color and hair color. That’s why redheads are more likely to have freckles. Interestingly, people with lighter complexions are also more likely to develop sunspots as they age, particularly once they hit their mid-thirties.
Another difference is that freckles typically fade away as people age, whereas sunspots tend to stay on the skin longer and won’t fade with time. Sometimes, they will even get darker, especially with continued sun exposure.
So, how do you spot the difference between a freckle and a sunspot?
These are flat areas of skin where there is tan or brown discoloration. They appear on the areas of your body where you get sun exposure, including your hands, arms, shoulders, back, and, of course, face. They also begin to appear as you age.
Freckles tend to be inherited and are often only seen on fair-skinned people. They are flat and brown, and they are likely to become more prominent in the summer.
Now, there are a few other skin conditions and problems that can look like sunspots or like freckles that you should know about:
This is another skin condition that impacts people who spend a lot of time in the sun. It impacts mostly the face and causes brown or gray-brown patches on the skin, depending on your skin tone. This type of skin problem is more common in women and there is some evidence that it is triggered by hormones. It often develops during pregnancy, but it doesn’t impact the health of the woman.
Some people get birthmarks on their faces that grow darker over time. Birthmarks can be flat against the skin like sunspots, and they too come in various shades. Most birthmarks don’t cause any harm.
So, now that we know a little bit about the differences between sunspots and freckles, let’s explore what options you have for unwanted sunspots that you’d like to see ride away into the sunset.
Are There Professional Treatments for Sunspots?
There are definitely some professional treatments available to reduce the appearance of sunspots. They are often effective, but they can be quite costly. Some of these treatments include:
Chemical Peels: Chemical peels use an acid solution to peel off the outermost layers of skin and reveal new skin. Chemical peels can burn and may be painful during and after the procedure. Also, you will have to be careful going out into the sunlight after the peel.
Cryotherapy: This is a quicker procedure that uses liquid nitrogen solution or nitrous oxide to freeze off sunspots. This procedure isn’t guaranteed to succeed, as it works in some cases but not in others.
Intense Pulse Light Therapy (IPL): IPL can be used to reduce the appearance of sunspots by heating up and destroying the melanin with light pulses. This procedure takes multiple sessions and is quite expensive.
Laser Resurfacing: Another costly option to reduce the appearance of your sunspots is using lasers to beam light at the layers of your skin. This process has a lengthy recovery time as the treated areas can take up to a month to heal.
Microdermabrasion: Another option is microdermabrasion. This is when an abrasive tip is applied to the skin to slough off the outermost layers of skin. It is then suctioned off. Microdermabrasion causes little to no pain when done by a professional. There are some at-home treatments that are like microdermabrasion, but these tools aren’t as strong as the ones that the professionals use.
Micro-needling Procedures: An emerging option for sunspots is micro-needling. Small needles are used to prick the surface of your skin to help with overall skin texture as well as reducing the appearance of sunspots. In most cases, you will have extremely sensitive skin for a few days.
Now, it’s best to note that all of these procedures are pricey and require repeat visits to see a professional for treatments in order to try to lessen or reduce the appearance of your sunspots. As such, most people prefer at-home solutions before they seek professional medical help.
So let’s explore some at-home remedies that may reduce the appearance of your sunspots, so you can say goodbye to your unwanted spots on your own terms.
How Can I Remove Sunspots At Home?
Reducing sunspots requires a lot of effort, so you should avoid them at all costs. However, since we can’t hide indoors all the time, and because our bodies naturally crave sunshine, it’s inevitable that we will get some sunspots.
Let’s take a look at a few different ways to reduce the appearance of those dreaded sunspots once and for all:
- • Aloe Vera: Aloe vera can help reduce hyperpigmentation in the skin, including sunspots. Use fresh aloe vera because it contains the active compounds of aloin and aloesin.
- • Apple Cider Vinegar: Another option is to use apple cider vinegar, which may help to even out sunspots. Be careful with this treatment, as it can bleach your skin. For this reason, avoid straight apple cider vinegar.
- • Black and/or Green Tea: Another option for removing sunspots that has had some success is using either black tea or green tea. While this home remedy may not help everyone, it is a good option to try because it is simple and safe.
- • Milk: Lactic acid has long been a treatment to help reduce hyperpigmentation, including sunspots. Milk (or buttermilk) is a good option as long as you don’t have any allergies.
- • Vitamin C: Vitamin C is one of the best things to put on your skin, and it has several benefits when you use it to treat sun damage. It helps prevent UV rays from reaching your skin and can reduce spots at the same time. Use it topically and work it into your diet for a total win-win for your skin.
- • Vitamin E: There is some evidence that suggests using vitamin E oil and taking vitamin E supplements can help protect your skin against sun damage and even out the appearance of sunspots.
Are There Any Risks Associated With Sunspots?
Other than self-esteem concerns and frustration, there are very few risks associated with sunspots. Unless you absolutely cannot stand the sight of them, the good news is that they do not have to be treated, reduced, or removed at all.
The biggest problem is that they impact your self-confidence and might make you feel unattractive. If this is the case, you can look into having them removed or fading them yourself with any of these home remedies. Most treatments are safe as long as you listen to your skin and refrain from any treatments that cause irritation.
If you think something is wrong with a spot on your face, it’s likely that it isn’t a sunspot but another issue that looks like a sunspot. If you’re concerned, seek the guidance of a medical professional to learn more.
How Do I Avoid Getting Sunspots?
While there are no substantive risks associated with sunspots, there are some risks associated with the behaviors that lead to sunspots. Because of this, you should careful about what behaviors you partake in and what you are exposing your beautiful skin to.
For example, you should avoid the following:
- • Using tanning beds on a regular basis.
- • Going out into the sun regularly between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
- • Going without sunscreen on a daily basis.
If you want to avoid sunspots, there are a few things that you can do to prevent them:
- • Apply sunscreen before going outdoors or before sitting near a window
- • Reapply sunscreen as directed
- • Wear a tinted moisturizer or foundation with SPF
- • Wear a hat on sunny days
- • Cover your skin with clothing
- • Immediately treat sunburned skin
Of course, generally paying attention to your surroundings and your skin can also help to avoid sunspots.
Unfortunately, for some people with certain types of skin, it is nearly impossible to avoid getting sunspots. If you are fair-skinned, it’s best to do whatever you can, but you may always be at risk. As we get older and our skin gets thinner, it is more common for sunspots to pop up unexpectedly. Even if you start to practice good techniques, you may have sunspots that emerge due to previous years of sun damage.
In Summary: It’s Up To You
Now you know that sunspots are harmless, though some people want to say goodbye to them. Whether or not you treat them is a personal choice. If you see a spot on your skin and you are concerned about it, then you may want to go see a dermatologist or a doctor.
Taking care of your skin and including skincare products that can help you avoid sunspots and treat any before they emerge may be your best bet. Keep your skin supple, apply all-natural products to keep your skin healthy, and eat foods that will offer protection from the inside out. It is never too late (or too early) to start your unique sunspot prevention skincare routine.