With excessive exposure to the sun we are all susceptible to some form of skin damage. Pigmentation and Sunspots are very common as the years of sun exposure creep up on us. As our most common body parts (face, neck, shoulders, arms and hands) are the most exposed to the year-round elements, they are also the most susceptible to the damage. Fair skinned people are by far the most susceptible as their skin type simply burns easier. Freckles and sunspots are very similar by nature, with the exceptions that sunspots are bigger and vary in color. Sunspots tend to look like a bunch of freckles put together and appear as “patches.” It can take years for sunspots to form and without a high SPF protection, they will continue to develop. Since it is believed that they take a decade or so show up, you should be applying protection now! The old adage of, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” is very applicable here. And of course, the easiest way to get your needed protection is to apply product with an SPF of 30 and cover up with appropriate clothing to avoid unnecessary damage.
Explaining how sunspots and pigmentation work, starts with our body’s natural pigment Melanin. This pigment is responsible for the coloring in our hair, skin, and eye’s iris. When your skin is excessively exposed two types of pigmentation can occur, Hyperpigmentation and Hypopigmentation. The difference between between these two types of damage can be attributed to your personal skin tone.
Hyperpigmentation – This type of pigmentation forms the dark patches on your skin and will look like sunspots and freckles. Though typically harmless, you might want to have them removed if looking at them bothers you. If you choose have them removed, understand that there are different types of Hyperpigmentation to ensure the appropriate treatment.
***One of most common forms of Hyperpigmentation is Melasma. This type can be caused by both sun exposure and hormonal changes. This type may appear during your pregnancy, or may be occur as a side effect to some medications. While not super treatable, it has a tendency to fade over time.
Hypopigmentation – This type of pigmentation has the opposite effects as Hyperpigmentation. Patches of skin lighten in color with occasional white spots present. Although, this pigmentation can be formed through sun damage, it could also signal a disease called Vitiligo. Consult a dermatologist if you are concerned.