I have brown, sun damage spots on my chest that are making me look older than I am. As a kid, we never wore sunscreen and even though I haven’t spent much time in the sun since, these spots seem to be gaining momentum. Is there anything I can do on my own like creams, serums, or diet? I’ve read on the internet that directly applying apple cider vinegar and lemon on these spots can fade them. Is that true or do I really need a more intense treatment?
Dr. Robin Evans Replies with 7 Sun-Damage Tips:
1. Always See A Dermatologist First
I may seem biased (because I am LOL), but I believe that a board-certified dermatologist should always look at any spot before it’s treated. Spa and medical spa staff don't have the expertise to determine if a spot is potentially cancerous. You don't know either no matter how much internet research you've done. It’s just not worth the risk! But don’t worry, most sun spots (also called solar lentigines or liver spots) are just damaged skin pigmentation. However, they do get worse with each new UV exposure. A commitment to routine sunscreen application keeps things from getting worse!
2. Try A Home Remedy
It's possible that some at-home remedies like apple cider vinegar or lemon might help fade sun spots a tiny bit, but improvement will likely be very minimal.
3. Use a Topical Lightening Agent
The best topical lightening agent is hydroquinone, which we formulate in our office. This prescription strength topical cream, called Melaquin, has been around for decades, but there are some safety concerns. Hydroquinone should be used for a limited time period and only on small areas of the skin. Hydroquinone should never be used during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
4. Add Chemical Peels To The Mix
Chemical peels can also be helpful. The in-office variety is stronger and will give a better result than a home peel, but you can certainly experiment on your own. I recommend our specially formulated SoCo Skin Free Glycolic Peel Pads for home use, which come in 10%, 15%, and 20% concentrations. They contain liposomal vitamins A-C-E and Co-Q10. Take that sun spots!
5. IPL Treatment Is Quick & Thorough
The foolproof approach is to literally "zap" spots away with intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment. Of course that’s an in-office procedure, but it gets the job done quickly and completely. There is a brief healing period where the zapped spots scab up and peel off, but neither this nor the treatment itself is considered painful (by most). Results can be seen in about a week or two, which makes this an ideal approach if speed is a concern or if you have an upcoming event.
6. Go Long With Vitamin C Serums
If time is not an issue, a topical vitamin C serum can be beneficial as well.
7. Topicals Are Not A Magic Bullet
OTC retinols and low-strength, non-prescription hydroquinone are both minimally effective to improve the look of sun-damaged skin. There are many claims made these days, so please be smart.
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