Symptoms, conditions and causes

What are the causes for sunspots?

Understanding Sunspots and Their Causes

Sunspots, also known as liver spots or solar lentigines, are flat brown spots that appear on the skin after prolonged sun exposure. They're caused by an overproduction of melanin, the pigment that gives our skin its color.

Sunspots may be harmless, but they can still be frustrating for those seeking even, radiant skin. Let's take a moment to understand what triggers these dark spots and discover effective ways to prevent them from appearing in the first place.

The Role of Melanin in Skin Pigmentation

Melanin is produced by cells called melanocytes, which are found in the bottom layer of the skin's epidermis. When your skin is exposed to UV radiation from the sun, your melanocytes kick into high gear and produce more melanin to protect your skin from damage.

This increased melanin production is what causes your skin to tan. But over time, repeated sun exposure can cause some areas of your skin to produce too much melanin, leading to the formation of sunspots.

Factors Contributing to Sunspot Development

While sun exposure is the primary cause of sunspots, there are other factors that can contribute to their development.

For example, hormonal changes during pregnancy or menopause can cause an increase in melanin production, leading to the formation of dark spots on the skin.

Birth control pills, antibiotics, and other medications can boost your skin's sensitivity to the sun, hiking up your odds of getting sunspots. If sunspots run in your family, you might be more likely to get them too.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, sunspots are most common in people over the age of 40 who have fair skin and a history of sun exposure.

But regardless of your age or skin type, it's important to protect your skin from the sun to prevent sunspots from forming in the first place.

Last updated: May 22, 2024 14:04 PM