You may have spent your youth slathering on baby oil and lying on the beach with a metallic sun reflector aimed at your face. If so, you may now be noticing the damaging effects of those sun rays on your face. It can be helpful to understand how to treat the damage that has already occurred and learn ways to prevent further damage. You may have previously avoided baking your skin in the sun. However, you may still be wondering how to continue to protect your skin in order to keep it soft, supple, and free of age spots.
12. Sun Spot Risk Factors
Those with fair coloring are more susceptible to the ravages of UV sun rays on their skin. Individuals with darker skin tones receive some protection from additional melanin or skin pigments. If you are over 50, you may notice your skin beginning to show signs of aging, such as loss of elasticity. As we age, our skin becomes more fragile and sensitive to the sun. Certain medications, including acne medications and some antibiotics, can cause sun sensitivity. Other risk factors for sun spots include hobbies or jobs that require long hours outside in the sun and a weakened immune system.
11. Protecting Your Skin
To protect your skin against sun damage, it is critical to wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 when spending time out in the sun. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before heading outside to allow it to work properly. Take extra care to protect your skin when the sun is at its highest. This is between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. A wide-brimmed hat will offer protection for your face and neck, as will a hat with a sun flap. If you spend extended time in the sun, choose tightly woven clothing or purchase clothing with UV protection.
10. Liver Spots
Those brown spots or patches of skin associated with aging are called lentigines, or liver spots. According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, these spots are usually benign, although it is advisable to inspect them for any changes in color or irregularities in their borders. Liver spots commonly occur on the areas of the body that receive the most exposure to sunlight. You may notice them appearing on your face or on the backs of your hands. Individuals with a family history of liver spots may be more susceptible to this condition.
Freckles, or ephelides, are tiny areas of increased pigmentation that may pop out with increased sun exposure and fade during the less sunny winter months. Ephelides are the skin’s natural attempt to shield itself from harmful rays. These speckles differ from sun spots in that they tend to appear in childhood, whereas sun spots appear later in life. Those with fair skin tones are more prone to freckling. While freckles are not an indication of sun damage, individuals with freckles may be more susceptible to the damaging effects of UV rays.
Brown or gray patches on the cheeks, forehead, nose, or chin may be melasma. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, those more likely to develop melasma include women and individuals with darker skin coloring. This condition occurs when melanocytes in the skin produce excess pigmentation in response to sun exposure or hormonal changes. The hormones associated with pregnancy, birth control pills, and hormone replacement therapy may trigger melasma. If you are susceptible to melasma, avoid using harsh skin care products as irritating the skin can worsen melasma.
7. Diagnosing Sun-Related Skin Conditions
Sun spots, liver spots, freckles, and melasma are not signs of skin cancer. However, they are associated with sun exposure and therefore may indicate an increased risk of skin cancer. It is critical to inspect your skin for signs of changes to any spots or moles. Actinic keratosis refers to pink, red, or brown patches of skin. According to the Mayo Clinic, these patches may be rough and scaly, flat and bumpy, or hard and wartlike. These spots may be early signs of skin cancer. Bring any new or changing spots to the attention of your doctor.
6. ABCDEs of Skin Cancer
When inspecting moles or spots on your skin, the Skin Cancer Foundation advises watching for the ABCDEs of skin cancer. A stands for asymmetry or a mole with sides that are not equal in appearance. B stands for a border that is jagged or uneven. Changes or variances in color are a third warning sign of melanoma. Meanwhile, a diameter larger than the eraser of a pencil may be a sign of skin cancer. Lastly, E represents a mole or spot that is evolving or changing with time.
If you notice signs of sun spots, exfoliating your skin may help to reduce the appearance of these areas. You can find many exfoliating products on drug store shelves. However, you can also make your own facial scrubs at home. Soulfully Made has a recipe for a Lemon Sugar Scrub that calls for a lemon, sugar, olive oil, coconut oil, and lemon essential oil. Meanwhile, Edible Communities offers a recipe for an antioxidant-rich Papaya Face Scrub. You can make this scrub with papaya seeds, papaya fruit, and olive oil.
Keeping your skin moisturized helps to strengthen it and aid in the fight against sun damage. Apply moisturizer each morning before heading out for the day and again at bedtime to nourish your skin and plump up skin cells. It is especially critical to apply a good moisturizer after exfoliating. You can purchase dermatologist-approved products such as Cetaphil Daily Hydrating Lotion or CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion. You can also moisturize your face by rubbing a few drops of olive oil into slightly damp skin.
3. Foods That Nourish Your Skin
They say you are what you eat, and there are many foods that offer nutrients to boost the health of your skin. The antioxidant components of vitamin C support your skin by preventing cellular injury by free radicals. Vitamin C also plays a role in the formation of collagen, which keeps your skin strong and supple. Additionally, vitamin E and vitamin A can help guard against skin dryness and sun damage. Include citrus fruits, sweet potatoes, red sweet peppers, tomatoes, and nuts in your diet to reap the benefits of these vitamins.
2. Topical Preparations
If the appearance of age spots is getting you down, your doctor may prescribe topical medications to help fade them. The Mayo Clinic lists bleaching agents, steroids, and retinoids as products your doctor may use to reduce the appearance of age spots. Laser therapy, cryotherapy, and dermabrasion are other alternatives. If you prefer a gentler approach, seek out skin creams containing vitamin E, vitamin A, or vitamin C. Keep in mind, the best defense against age spots is the diligent application of sunscreen.
1. Keeping Hydrated
Sipping water will keep your body hydrated and help plump up your skin cells. While it is not necessary to gulp down eight glasses of water each day, pay attention to your body, and drink when you are thirsty. If you don’t enjoy the taste of plain water, you can enjoy coffee, tea, and milk to provide the water your body needs. Fruits and vegetables such as melons, cucumbers, and celery are high in water content and will help keep you hydrated. Furthermore, a study in the British Journal of Nutrition suggests that drinking green tea can offer protection against sun damage.