What Are Sun Spots On The Face?

Sun spots are brown black spots on the skin in sun exposed areas: usually the face, neck and hands. They are caused by an increase in melanin pigment.

“Sun spot” is really not a diagnostic name for a skin problem.  It is more of a descriptive term for any dark spots on the skin. 

Differential Diagnosis Determines the Definition Of Sun Spots

“Sun Spots” can be one of these many skin diagnoses:

  1. Melasma
  2. Solar lentigos
  3. Freckles
  4. Seborrheic keratosis
  5. Lentigo maligna
  6. Melanoma
  7. Pigmented basal cell carcinoma

It important to make sure you know which one of these is the cause of your sun spot.  The best way to know if to find a board certified dermatologist at

What causes sun spots?

Sun spots are caused by radiation exposure which can come from sun, cell phones. computer screens, any source of heat such as steaming the face or infrared saunas. So you see- these are not really suns spots but radiation spots.

Solar lentigo is the medical term used to say “sun spot”, but there is much confusion among non dermatologists about what a sun spot is.

Are sunspots bad?

It depends upon which kind of sun spot you have.  Melanoma is the most dangerous and must be removed immediately before they metastasize.  Pigmented basal cells are a type of skin cancer that looks like a sun spot.  These grow quickly and must be removed soon to prevent scarring.  Lentigo maligna can turn into melanoma with time.  This is why you need to get a dermatologic diagnosis for any growing spots on your skin.

How to diagnose sun spots?

You MUST see a dermatologist to get an accurate diagnosis about your sun spots.  Studies show that over 60% of pigmented lesions are incorrectly diagnosed by non-dermatologists.

Mobile apps are being developed to detect melanoma but are not yet widely available. 

There are dermatologists who specialize in diagnosing pigmented lesions.  These dermatologists are very skilled at using a device called a Dermatoscope that looks into the deeper layers of the skin to look for diagnostic indicators.  Lesions that look suspicious with a Dermatoscope are biopsied to confirm the diagnosis.

Other diagnostic procedures are being developed to diagnose sun-spots such as ultrasound.

Sun spots vs melasma?

Melasma is harder to get rid of than a solar lentigo because it tends to recur.  Using the correct skin care routine consistently is the only way to treat melasma effectively.

Freckles vs sun spots?

Freckles are caused by a genetic mutation that results in freckles on sun exposed skin.  Freckles are considered a sign of sun damage.

So if you have new sun spots- get them checked out by a dermatologist as soon as you can.

September 7, 2022 Uncategorized