If you enjoy spending time in the Texas sunshine, you’re certainly not alone. Many people adore the sunny weather and love to go swimming, hiking, and playing sports outdoors. Unfortunately, the same sun that makes it so pleasant to spend time outside also takes a toll on your skin, ultimately causing signs of aging like wrinkles, volume loss, and brown spots.
With the exception of seasonal freckles, brown spots usually don’t start to show themselves until you’ve spent many years sunning yourself. When they do appear, you might be shocked by how much older they make you look. If you’ve recently noticed new brown spots on your skin, here’s what you need to know.
Why Do We Get Brown Spots?
Brown spots, which are also known as “age spots,” “sun spots,” or “liver spots” are irregular spots or patches of dark pigmentation on the skin. This phenomenon is known as “hyperpigmentation,” and it’s the skin’s response to being exposed to UV (ultraviolet) light from the sun or from an artificial source, like a tanning bed.
Skin contains melanin, which is what gives us our own unique skin color. People with more natural melanin in their skin will have a darker complexion. When skin of any color is exposed to the sun, however, more melanin is produced. This is what causes a tan.
Brown spots are the result of melanin clumps or clusters. When the skin is exposed to a large amount of UV light, more melanin may be produced in some areas than others, causing uneven pigmentation. Over time, this results in brown spots and affects the evenness of a person’s skin tone.
Even if you use sunscreen diligently, it’s almost impossible to prevent all damage to your skin from UV rays over a lifetime. But pigment changes are much more likely in people who spend a lot of time in the sun, especially if they don’t apply sunscreen correctly or frequently enough.
Where Are Brown Spots Most Common?
Generally, brown spots appear on the face, since this is the area of the skin that is most likely to be exposed to the sun on a regular basis. But you might also notice brown spots on your neck, chest, hands, and arms. Any part of the body that is regularly exposed to UV light can develop brown spots.
Who is Most Likely to Get Brown Spots?
Though anyone can develop hyperpigmentation, people with light skin and fair hair are most at risk for developing brown spots. Light skin has very little natural melanin, meaning that it may respond more dramatically to the effects of the sun. Additionally, people who live in sunny climates like the Southern United States are much more likely to have brown spots.
Occupation and habits also play a role in who will be most affected by brown spots as they age. People who use tanning beds may eventually develop brown spots in the areas they regularly tanned. Those who work outdoors in harsh environmental conditions are also at risk. Truck drivers, who are exposed to the sun through the windows of their vehicles, may be more likely to develop brown spots.
Even people with light skin might not start to see brown spots until later in life. Older women, in particular, often have reduced melanin in their skin and are more susceptible to age spots as they get older.
Are Brown Spots Dangerous?
Most brown spots are harmless. They may not look very good, but they’re usually not dangerous. With that said, extensive exposure to the sun can cause skin cancer, so it’s always important to be on the lookout for brown spots that change in size or shape, are multicolored, or bleed. If any spots look suspicious, contact a dermatologist right away. Early detection can be lifesaving.
Can Brown Spots Be Prevented?
The best way to prevent brown spots is to protect your skin from the sun. Wear sunscreen when outdoors, even if it seems like the sun isn’t shining. UV rays can still damage your skin on cloudy days. If you are indoors but the sun is shining through and onto your skin, you need to wear sunscreen as well—most windows don’t filter out UV light.
Avoiding the hottest part of the day, wearing protective clothing, and never intentionally tanning will also help prevent brown spots. Frequent sunburn is a risk factor for developing spots.
Getting Rid of Brown Spots (Safely)
Prevention is always best, but you’re not out of luck if you already have brown spots. There are a number of non-invasive skin treatments available that can eliminate or at least reduce the appearance of brown spots.
The least invasive treatment for brown spots is using topical skincare products. Generally, a medical-grade brand is the most likely to provide good results. A medical spa like Mirror Mirror Beauty Boutique or a plastic surgeon can provide you with a customized skincare plan and appropriate products.
If skincare products aren’t helping, then professional treatments may be the answer. Laser treatments and light therapy options can target brown spots and destroy unwanted pigment. IPL (intense pulsed light) and Laser Genesis can be great options for people struggling with hyperpigmentation. These gentle lasers typically require no downtime.
Chemical peels can range from superficial to deep and work by destroying damaged or dead skin cells. This clears the way for new, refreshed skin that has a more consistent complexion. Many people need a series of treatments for optimal results.
Consult with a Skincare Expert
If your brown spots are causing you to feel less confident when you look in the mirror, the aestheticians at Mirror Mirror Beauty Boutique in Houston, TX, to help. Our cosmetic experts have years of experience and are dedicated to your results. Call (281) 810-9083 today to schedule your consultation today!