Dr. Kenneth Sanders
Everyone may be gearing up for the new school year, but summer is far from over. Some of you may be determined to enjoy as much of the sun as you can possibly squeeze in. Whether it’s a last minute, quick trip to the beach or a leisurely weekend on the lake, many of you will take home some lovely new summer souvenirs called sunspots. Those obnoxious flat brown spots that show up wherever you skin is exposed to the harmful rays of the sun. Sunspots make you look older than you are and it takes serious treatment to get rid of them.
Some options you might consider are light and laser-based treatments that can lighten up the sunspots. Skin or chemical peels can even out the entire color of the skin. A combination of these types of treatments will get you the best results.
The best way to avoid sunspots is to avoid the sun all together. But, if you must be in the sun at least wear a high SPF sunscreen. Put on a hat and wear sun protective clothing.
In addition to sunspots, some people get Melasma. Sounds pretty scary and you may have heard this condition called the “pregnancy mask” because pregnant women typically develop it.
Melasma is a common increase of pigmentation that occurs exclusively in sun-exposed areas, in particular on the face. It’s much more common in women between the ages of 20-40. (The ideal pregnancy age range)
It’s less common in older women, and it rarely affects men.
Melasma is more of a problem in people who have relatively dark skin to begin with, and because it’s made worse by sun exposure it tends to be more of a problem in the spring and summer.
Melasma most commonly affects the central face (cheeks, forehead, upper lip, nose, and chin). You may see it on the cheeks and nose, or the cheeks and jaw line. It’s rare, but Melasma also can cause patches of pigmentation on the forearms.
There isn’t a magic lotion that will help this condition to go away permanently, but a “bleaching cream” such as Lytera 2.0 by SkinMedica helps to reduce the skin’s ability to produce brown pigment. The use of a high-SPF, broad-spectrum sunscreen every morning night can result in the improvement of the skin. A faithful use sun protection needs to be continued long-term in order to reduce the risk of relapse of melisma.
In some cases, improvement in melasma and other forms of facial pigmentation can be helped with intense pulsed light (IPL) treatments. Sun avoidance and using a sunscreen every day are essential steps to preventing melasma.
Wearing sun screen and keeping your skin protected from the sun may not be as fun as frolicking in sand too hot to walk on but years down the road, you’ll be thankful that you took precautions. If you absolutely cannot go without a tan, I recommend the Bronze Biologic Spray-On Tanning solution that produces a safe, all natural-looking tan.