Sunspots

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Question

What are sun spots and what causes them?

Answer

Sun spots are areas of the skin that appear lighter or darker than normal after exposure to sunlight. A fungus called tinea versicolor causes one type of sun spot. Excess sun exposure causes another. Sun spots caused by fungus often make patches of skin appear lighter than usual in dark-skinned people and darker than usual in light-skinned people. Doctors diagnose the infection by its appearance or by using an ultraviolet light. Sun spots are quite common among young adults and are usually painless. They occur mostly on the back of the hands or on the face and typically appear during middle age. They also typically increase in number with age.

Sun spot causes

Sun spots caused by excessive exposure to the sun are called solar lentigines. They're also called "age spots" or "liver spots." They appear as dark, flat, discolored oval spots on the skin. To prevent this type of sun spot, avoid excessive sun exposure and use a sunscreen of SFP 15 or higher. Treatment of solar lentigines often includes skin bleaching agents, which are available over the counter and by prescription. Full fading can take from three weeks to six months. Freezing or laser treatments may be used to get rid of sun spots in some cases.

If you think you have sunspots, see a dermatologist to find out which kind you have and how to treat them. If a sun spot on your skin changes in size, shape, or color, schedule an examination with your doctor.

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