Sun Spots

* Individual results may vary.

The term “sunspots” is actually a misnomer. People often mistake sunspots for age spots. Age spots are the brown marks people over the age of 45 often see on their skin; sunspots are red and feel scaly to the touch. Sunspots are often mistaken for dry skin, but no amount of moisturising will make them less rough.

The skin specialists at Platinum Dermatology want you to know more about sunspots. In this article, you’ll discover how to identify sunspots, how to treat them, and, most important, how to prevent them from occurring.

What Are Actinic Keratoses?

What most people call “sunspots” are known medically as actinic keratoses (AK) or Solar Keratoses. They develop as a result of long-term exposure to the sun and are a sign that the skin has been severely damaged.

Fair-skinned individuals and people who work/play outdoors without proper sun protection are at a greatest risk for developing sun spots. In fact, actinic keratoses are the most common lesions to occur on skin that is repeatedly exposed to the sun. AK’s are unsightly and can sometimes be harmless. Often, however, they are pre-cancerous or an early stage of squamous cell carcinoma.

Platinum Dermatology Lists Key Characteristics of Sunspots

Sunspots are most likely to occur on the back of the hands and the face. A sunspot can also occur on the lips, where it is known as actinic or solar cheilitis. The lesions may be

  • Flat or thickened
  • Scaly
  • Skin-coloured
  • Reddened

Over time, an actinic keratosis can develop into a cutaneous horn, which is a piece of skin that has hardened and protrudes from the skin, giving the appearance of a horn.

How to Identify a Dangerous Sunspot

Everyone, especially sun-loving Australians, should become familiar with their own skins, so changes can be noticed when they occur. Early detection means early treatment and a reduced risk of skin cancer.

If you notice a change in the size, shape, or colour of a sunspot, consult a dermatologist right away.

What are the Risk Factors for Developing Dangerous Sunspots?
Several factors increase your risk for developing the sunspots that doctors consider pre-cancerous lesions. Some of those factors are within your control; others are not:

  • Fair skin
  • Red Hair
  • Age (risk increases over age 40)
  • A history of working outdoors
  • An enthusiasm for outdoor sports and activities

What Parts of the Body do Sunspots affect?

Sunspots can develop on any skin that is repeatedly exposed to sunlight. They most commonly occur on:

  • Face
  • Scalp
  • Neck
  • Hands
  • Arms

However they may also be found on the chest, back, and legs.

Platinum Dermatology’s Tips for Preventing Sunspots

The best way to prevent sunspots:

  • Avoid sun exposure between 10am and 4pm when rays are at their most powerful and damaging.
  • Apply sunscreen daily, even on overcast days.
  • Reapply sunscreen throughout the day, more frequently if you are at the beach or pool where a waterproof sunscreen is a good idea.
  • Wear protective clothing such as a broad-brimmed hat or long-sleeved shirt. In fact it’s best to wear both!
  • Wear sunglasses to protect the delicate skin around the eyes.

Localised Treatment for Small Sunspots

Despite best efforts, the majority of older adults will develop sunspots as a result of sunburns and unprotected sun exposure in childhood and young adult life. At Platinum Dermatology, our dermatologists assess a patient’s skin condition and offer a personalised treatment plan based on:

  • Number of lesions
  • Size of lesions
  • Location of the affected area
  • Type of sunspot

At Platinum Dermatology we treat a small number of sunspots in a localised area using

  • Cryotherapy – This process involves the application of liquid nitrogen to freeze damaged skin cells so healthy new cells can grow.*

Treatments for Large Areas of Sun Spots

Several treatment options are used to address large areas of sunspots in what is known as “field treatment.” One of the most exciting aspects of field treatment is that it is effective at treating early, microscopic AK’s, which are not yet visible to the eye.

  • 5FU (5Fluorouracil) – Also known as Efudix cream, this is a chemotherapeutic (anti-cancer) cream absorbed by the abnormal cells of the AK with very little effect on the surrounding healthy cells.*
  • Imiquimod – This cream works by stimulating the body’s natural immune response to destroy abnormal cells.*
  • Diclofenac Gel – This is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication that causes less discomfort than the creams mentioned above. It also differs in that a twice-daily application is needed over a three-month period.*

Laser Treatment for Sunspots at Platinum Dermatology

We have two other ways to treat sunspots at Platinum Dermatology. One method is ablative erbium resurfacing with a laser. The laser delivers an intense wavelength of light to the skin that removes the sun-damaged skin, allowing healthier skin to come to the surface. The laser also stimulates the underlying skin, which in turn, triggers collagen formation and an improvement in the appearance of wrinkles.*

At Platinum Dermatology we are very proud to offer our patients the benefits of treatment with the Sciton ProFractional Laser. The benefits* of this effective dermatology laser include:

  • Precise treatment
  • Increased patient comfort
  • Shorter healing times
  • Results that can be fine-tuned from subtle to dramatic

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is the other in-demand treatment at our dermatology practice. The skin is first treated with a cream or spray, then exposed to a warm, red laser light. Abnormal skin cells absorb the light, slough off and die, paving the way for the emergence of healthy radiant skin.*

Book a consultation with our specialist dermatologists to find out more about photodynamic therapy.

Platinum Dermatology also offers BroadBand Light which offers immediate and dramatic results in restoring a fresh and radiant appearance and can both reduce and delay the long-term signs of skin aging such as photodamage, telangiectases, fine lines and wrinkles, and skin laxity.*

Click here to read more about BroadBand Light.

Don’t ignore your sunspots. Contact Platinum Dermatology on 02 8014 6500 or use the contact form to learn how we can help you keep your skin healthy and beautiful and prevent the development of squamous cell carcinoma.

* Individual results may vary.