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Over-the-Counter Treatments for Sunspots


By Staff Writer

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SunspotsSunspots are areas of the skin that appear lighter or darker than normal after exposure to sunlight. A fungus called tinea versicolor causes one type of sunspot. Excess sun exposure causes another.

How to treat fungal sunspots

Sunspots caused by fungus often make patches of skin appear lighter than usual in dark-skinned people and darker than usual in light-skinned people. Doctors diagnose the infection by its appearance or by using an ultraviolet light. Sunspots are quite common among young adults and are usually painless. To get rid of the fungus, try herbal, over-the-counter, and prescription medications. It may take up to four weeks before you see an improvement. Also, the fungus is very likely to grow back.

How to prevent and treat sunspots caused by the sun

Sunspots caused by excessive exposure to the sun are called solar lentigines. They’re also called “age spots” or “liver spots.” They appear as dark, flat, discolored patches on the skin. To prevent this type of sun spot, avoid excessive sun exposure and use a sunscreen of SFP 15 or higher. Treatment of solar lentigines often includes skin bleaching agents, which are available over the counter and by prescription. Full fading can take from three weeks to six months. Freezing or laser treatments may be used to get rid of sunspots in some cases.

When to see a doctor

If you think you have sunspots, see a dermatologist to find out which kind you have and how to treat them. If a sunspot changes in size, shape, or color, schedule an examination with your doctor.

 

References: Handbook of Nonprescription Drugs. American Pharmaceutical Association, 1996.Drug Facts and Comparisons, Facts and Comparisons, 1999.Murray, M., J. Pizzorno. Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. Prima Communications, Inc., 1998.This answer prepared 7/27/99.

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