What To Know About Sunspots On The Face – South Florida Reporter

Sunspots, which doctors may refer to as solar lentigines, are dark brown, flat, rounded spots that may appear on the face or other areas of sun-exposed skin. Sunspots are most likely to develop in the following areas:

The sun emits ultraviolet (UV) radiation that stimulates the production of skin cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes produce a substance called melanin, which gives the skin its color.

When there is a disruption to melanin production, people may develop overpigmented (hyperpigmented) or underpigmented (hypopigmented) areas of skin. Sunspots are hyperpigmented skin blemishes.

Sunspots are not cancerous anddo not becomecancerous. However, some people may find these skin blemishes unsightly. They may, therefore, seek treatment to lessen the appearance of sunspots and improve their self-esteem.


Researchersnote that the enzyme tyrosinase is a key factor in the production of melanin. They suggest that the overactivity of tyrosinase may causehyperpigmentationor sunspots.

Overactivity of the tyrosinase enzyme can occur as a result of aging. Due to this, some people refer to sunspots as age spots.

According to theAmerican Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS), some people may also have a genetic risk for developing sunspots.

Doctors can treat sunspots by slowing down or stopping the activity of the tyrosinase enzyme. They describe drugs that achieve this as having antityrosinase activity. The effects that they have can help lessen the appearance of sunspots.

Two types of treatment are available for sunspots on the face: topical creams and dermatologic techniques.

Topical creams are treatments that people apply to the skin. Several creams contain ingredients that target the tyrosinase enzyme and reduce the appearance of sunspots.


Hydroquinone is a popular medicinal treatment for sunspots. However, theFood and Drug Administration (FDA)have not approved hydroquinone for treating and preventing sunspots due to the drugs unknown safety profile.

Hydroquinone works as a skin-lightening treatment by blocking the effect of tyrosinase. People can purchase 2% hydroquinone creams over the counter. Higher strengths of hydroquinone require a doctors prescription.

People who use hydroquinone may experience the following side effects:

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid using hydroquinone because substantial amounts of the medication absorb into the skin and enter the womans bloodstream. Here, it can affect a fetus or a breastfeeding baby.


Tretinoin is a derivative ofvitaminA. Topical tretinoin creams can reduce the effect of photoaging that occurs as a result of exposure to UVB radiation.


Tri-Luma is a topical cream containingthreeactive ingredients that can help reduce hyperpigmentation. These are:

Although doctors are unsure how this combination works to reduce sunspots,researcherssuggest that tretinoin increases the effectiveness of hydroquinone.

Fluocinolone acetonide is a corticosteroid that dermatologists sometimes prescribe to treat severe inflammatory skin disorders.

Dermatologic techniques typically involve removing layers of skin from the sunspot to lessen its appearance.

TheASDSrecommend the following treatments for sunspots:

As age spots are not dangerous, people may decide to lighten them using home remedies or natural products. Some natural products that may help treat age spots include those below.

A2017 laboratory studyinvestigated the anti-aging skin effects of six different plant species that people commonly use in African folk medicine. In this study,Haloxylon articulatum, locally known as Remeth, had the greatest effect on reducing tyrosinase activity.

Cleome arabica, locally known as Mnitna, was also able to block tyrosinase activity but not as effectively asH. articulatum. The researchers concluded that both products may be effective natural skin-lightening agents. However, further studies involving human participants are necessary to confirm these effects.

A2012 laboratory studyinvestigated the antityrosinase activity of ten different South African plant species.

Four differentAloespecies inhibited the production of tyrosinase in vitro. These wereAloe ferox,Aloe aculeata,Aloe pretoriensis, andAloe sessiliflora. Of these,A. feroxshowed the greatest inhibitory effects.

However, leaf extract ofHarpephyllum caffrumshowed the greatest antityrosinase activity overall. The researchers, therefore, concluded thatH. caffrumcould be useful as a treatment for sunspots. However, further studies are necessary to confirm its effects in humans.

Traditional Chinese medicine doctorssometimes recommend licorice extract to lighten the skin. The main component of licorice is a chemical called glabridin. According to a review from2009, glabridin has antityrosinase activity and can prevent UVB-induced hyperpigmentation.

Other components in licorice extract lighten the skin by dispersing melanin. People using licorice extracts may notice improvements in sunspots without experiencing significant side effects.

Researchers have studied the effects of soybeans on skin pigmentation. In an earlierstudy from 2001,researchers found that soy milk inhibits pathways in skin cells that cause hyperpigmentation. Further studies in humans are necessary to confirm these findings.

Treatment durations

The duration of treatment necessary to treat sunspots depends partly on the type of treatment. In general, though, it may take weeks to months for treatment to cause noticeable changes to the skin. For example, the skin-lightening effects of dermabrasion may take68 weeks.

Some treatments may also require multiple procedures. People who opt for chemical peels can repeat the procedure every612 monthsif necessary.

A person should talk to their doctor or dermatologist to get an approximate time frame for their treatment.

Sunspots are noncancerous skin blemishes that people can develop on the face and other sun-exposed areas of the body.

Although sunspots are harmless, some people may want to get rid of them or lessen their appearance for cosmetic reasons. Dermatologists may recommend topical creams or dermatologic procedures to lighten the skin.

Natural remedies may be effective in reducing the appearance of sunspots. However, further research is necessary to establish their effectiveness.

A dermatologist may give some indication of how long a persons treatment will take to produce noticeable results.

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What To Know About Sunspots On The Face - South Florida Reporter

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