11 Jun SUN SPOTS BE GONE!
SUN SPOTS BE GONE!
Summer is almost here, folks! And with the summer, comes longer days. Which means more time in the sun! (Hooray?) No. Not so fast. You see, the sun is responsible for 80% of the skin’s aging. Wrinkles, loss of elasticity, blotchiness, and sunspots are all tell-tale signs of this damage. Uggh! That’s right, the notion of a “healthy” suntan is an oxymoron. They just don’t exist. Yet, despite this knowledge, many of us ignore the warnings about the sun’s damaging rays. Which means I write lots of blogs about how to best address the damage done by Mr. Sun.
Today, we are going to attack the sun spots, otherwise known as “age spots.” (I hate that name.) You know, those little “freckles” that make our backs, chests, shoulders, and hands look like stellar constellations. “Freckles” – now that seems like such a youthful word, doesn’t it? When I think of that word, I think of a cute little girls in pigtails with freckles on her nose. Well…these are not those cute little freckles I’m talking about, folks! Maybe, at our age, we admit that are really “age spots, and there is nothing, I repeat, NOTHING cute about them. Sun spots are caused by direct exposure to ultra violet rays. And even though you may not see the immediate damage caused, trust me, a storm is brewing just below the surface. And it ain’t pretty. In fact, it’s old, ugly, wrinkled and spotted. And eventually, it will rear its spotted head. So let’s work on erasing those pesky sun spots, that, quite frankly, make us look old (not cute).
(VERY IMPORTANT: Always check with your dermatologist if you are concerned with any of your spots before you start having them treated. In fact, set an annual spot check.) Once you are given the go-ahead, there are many options for treatment, ranging from home remedies, creams, and medi-spa procedures.
*Lemon. Slice a lemon and apply directly to the sunspots for 15 minutes per day. You can also squeeze fresh lemon juice into a bowl and apply with a cotton ball. Rinse with warm water.
*Buttermilk. Pour buttermilk into a bowl and apply with a cotton ball. For large areas, such as your back or shoulders, soak a washcloth in buttermilk and lay on your skin. Allow it to sit on skin for 15-30 minutes. Buttermilk has been used for decades to lighten spots. Do you know why? Because it works!
*Vitamin E. Most of us have heard that Vitamin E is good for our skin and hair for moisture, however, it also works to fade sun spots. Open a Vitamin E capsule, squeeze the oil directly on the sun spots and gently massage into the spots with your fingers. Do not wash off. Consistency is key, here folks. Do this every night until the spots start to fade.
*Aloe Vera. Aloe Vera, when applied directly from the Aloe Vera leaf, can significantly lighten sun spots due to the regenerative properties of the Aloe Vera plant. Cut the leaf in half and rub the gel directly on the sun spots. Leave on for 30 minutes and rinse off with warm water. Do this morning and night.
*Tretinoin (Retin-A). I’m convinced – and if you’ve read my blogs, you know I say it often – that Retin-A is the holy grail of skincare. Wrinkles, acne, uneven skin tone… AND sun spots, are all helped with this miracle cream. There are many good over-the-counter retinoid products, however, I go for the big guns. I use prescription strength .05% Retin-A that I buy from my dermatologist.
*Hydroquinone. Hydroquinone has been popular for years as a spot remover. There is controversy surrounding hydroquinone, however, because high doses have shown to cause cancers in mice. Although it is often prescribed, it is not something I recommend.
*IPL (Intense Pulse Light). This technology is similar to a laser, but it is actually a light therapy that targets the pigment in the skin. Patients may experience a slight darkening of the pigment before the treated spots rise to the surface and slough off. As for the pain level, the procedure itself is usually described as feeling like a rubber band being popped on the skin. I’ve had it done twice (on my back where I simply can’t reach to rub with lemon every day). I have to say, the first time I had it done on my arms, back and shoulders, I had so much sun damage that you could see the rectangular-shaped red marks where the laser was placed all over my back. It almost looked like scabs, but it was the pigment targeted underneath my skin. Because of this healing process, it is best to do it in the winter if you know you have severe damage. Make sure you do not have a spray tan or have not been exposed to any sun for months before doing this procedure. By the way, I tried it on my face one time just to see the difference, and I had no rectangular marks at all, even on a higher setting.
Meaning, there was no pigment to target on my face, which I’ve done a very good job protecting my whole life. Click here to see my Youtube video, “IPL Treatment For Sunspots.”
*Fraxel Laser. Fraxel laser or other resurfacing lasers work great on sunspots. Multiple treatments may be needed. These are best done after summer, in the fall or winter, when your skin will be less exposed for recovery and further damage.
*Chemical Peel. Chemical peels can be performed at dermatologist offices and most medi-spas. A combination of acids are applied to the skin. There is usually a burning sensation for a few minutes before the burning subsides. Like resurfacing lasers, this procedure helps to remove the top layers of skin, stimulate collagen, and reduce the appearance of sun spots and other imperfections. It can, however, leave the affected area red and peeling for several days, depending on the strength of the peel. If you have severe sun damage, I would suggest doing a few peels or Fraxel laser treatments first, followed by a few IPL treatments.
*Individual Spot Treatments. If you only have a few sun spots, then there are some treatment options best suited for that as well. Cryotherapy and Electrical Current techniques are effective in treating individual sun spots. So, if your back or chest is covered with spots, like the stars in the sky on a clear night, well then I would opt for a different treatment. Cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen to freeze spots, whereas, electric current techniques burn the spots. Both treatments cause a scab to form, which then falls off in a week or so.
So there you have it. There are many different ways to treat those pesky sun spots. Again, go see your doctor if you have any sense that a spot is suspect. But of all the remedies described above, the best way to address sun spots (age spots) is to prevent them from happening in the first place. So slather on that sunscreen, folks!
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