Sun spots or solar lentigos are light brown to tan spots that appear on the skin over time and are usually from sun exposure. The most common body areas affected are the sun exposed areas of the face, shoulders, arms, and hands. Sun spots are usually benign (not cancerous) growths. However, rarely a skin cancer could develop in one of these lesions. Concerning signs for skin cancer development would be any lesion that is symptomatic (itching, painful, bleeding etc), darkening, growing, developing multiple colors, or changing over time.
Because sun spots are from the sun the best prevention is sun protection. To limit sun exposure:
- Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 every two hours during sun exposure
- Avoid the sun during the peak intensity daylight hours (10 a.m. -2 p.m.)
- Wear clothing that has ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) or tight woven fabric. Broad brimmed hats with a large coverage area can also be useful
Sun spots, because they are benign (not cancerous), usually do not need to be treated. However, if lightening or treatment of sun spots is desired there are a variety of different treatment options that can be used including laser treatments, chemical peels, liquid nitrogen or cryotherapy, or bleaching agents.