Sun spots affect many people as they age. They appear as flat, brown or tan spots on the skin, appearing most commonly on areas exposed to the sun such as the face, neck, chest, arms and the back of the hands.

Who is at Risk?

Sun spots are caused by exposure to the sun, something that nobody can completely avoid. Of course, those who experience greater sun exposure are at a higher risk. People who work outdoors are constantly exposed to the sun's UV rays and should wear sunscreen or the proper clothing to avoid excessive sun exposure as much as possible.

The Role of Melanin and Age

Exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays activates the skin's pigment forming cells, called melanocytes, causing them to produce more pigment. As people age, their skin's ability to protect itself from the sun's UV rays diminishes, leading to the development of sun spots in older patients.

Reducing Risk

The best way to reduce risk is to protect oneself from the sun's rays. Wearing sunscreen is encouraged to provide protection on outings to the beach, hiking trips or any other activity that requires prolonged sun exposure. Some individuals are encouraged to wear sunscreen daily to prevent sun damage. Wearing the proper clothing is also important. This is difficult when spending a day at the beach, although some choose to wear a hat to protect their face and neck. When hiking or working outdoors, wearing a light long sleeve shirt, long pants and a hat can do wonders for preventing sun exposure. Understanding one's risk factors and then taking the appropriate steps to reduce their risk can go a long way in preventing sun spots and avoiding expensive treatment.