Noticed a white spots on your skin from the sun and wondering what they are? Or, more to the point, what can be done about them?
Spending time in the sun can cause changes in the pigment of your skin. You’re probably familiar with hyperpigmentation, like melasma and freckles. But the sun us thought to contribute to concerns where skin stops producing melanin too.
Hypopigmentation looks like white spots on your skin. The experts are still figuring out why exactly it happens. However, here’s what we do know.
What Are These Mysterious White Spots?
There are a couple of different types of white spots that can occur from sun exposure (although, as we mentioned, the exact cause isn’t entirely known).
Sun Spots: Idiopathic Guttate Hypomelanosis (IGH)
That long 3-part name is the medical way to describe the small white spots that often show up around your 40s. Women are more likely to experience these tiny white spots on skin earlier than men.
The name is a mouthful, we know, but it describes what these spots are.
- Idiopathic = unknown cause
- Guttate = teardrop shape
- Hypomelanosis = lighter-coloured skin
They are completely harmless. What causes these small white spots on skin is simply a result of a lack of melanin. Why the skin stops producing melanin is still not 100% certain, but it’s thought to be due to extended sun exposure.
Sun Spots Appearance
These little spots on your skin from the sun can creep up on you slowly and then continue to appear over time. They are really small, somewhere between 2–6mm. The pale smooth spots on your skin can show up on your:
If your loss of pigment in skin looks more like white patches, it could be vitiligo. This skin disorder affects 1% of the world’s population. Like sun spots, vitiligo is the result of depigmented skin. Where you see white patches of skin is where pigment-producing melanocytes have been lost.
Vitiligo white spots on skin may start out small before slowly spreading to cover larger areas. Although, this isn’t always the case.
It can occur anywhere on your body, including your head. Because the hair roots are affected, your hair in these areas can turn grey or white.
You’re more likely to get vitiligo if it runs in your family, but sun exposure can also activate the condition (more on this later). Symptoms are mostly likely to start appearing in your 20s and beyond.
What Causes White Spots on Skin?
What causes the white spots on skin is a lack of melanin, which gives skin its colour and helps protect you from UV rays. Sun exposure is thought to play a role in the appearance of both vitiligo and sun spots.
There is some controversy about IGH, with some saying that it’s simply part of the aging process. Genetics may also be partly responsible, and those with lighter skin are more likely to get sun spots.
Non-segmental vitiligo appears as a symmetrical pattern on the body and is the most common type. It’s thought to be an autoimmune disease, where your body breaks down healthy cells—in this case, the melanocyte skin cell responsible for producing pigment.
Stressful events, skin damage or chemical exposure could also trigger vitiligo.
Are White Spots Dangerous?
Both IGH and vitiligo are harmless to your physical health. However, as they affect the way your skin looks, they may cause you distress. You can take steps to reduce the physical appearance of the white spots and patches.
However, white spots can also be a sign of something else like vitamin deficiencies or fungal infections, which could require medical attention. If you’re unsure about the white spots on your skin, always consult your physician.
How to Prevent White Spots
Even before you notice any changes in your skin you should be keeping your skin protected from UV rays. If you’ve already started noticing white spots, you could help prevent further damage.
Stay sun safe by:
- Wearing COVER RECOVER™ every day and reapply regularly. Grab a tube of sheer for your body and find the perfect shade to match your complexion.
- Checking your UV rating for your location and staying out of the sun during peak times, usually between 11am–3pm
- Covering up with a wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirts and pants.
- Never deliberately tanning your skin inside or out!
Getting Rid of White Spots from Sun
Retinoid products (RETINAL ACTIVE™ is a must!) can stimulate cell growth and help with hypopigmentation, but for the best results, you should consult with a professional.
Dermapen Treatments for Hypopigmentation
Some traditional therapies for pigmented skin concerns carry the risk of greater pigmentation. But because the needles of a Dermapen 4™ insert cleanly in a vertical up and down motion and don’t use any heat, it’s safe and effective for all skin types.
Dermapen Treatments™ for hypopigmentation work in two ways to reverse the destruction or absence of functional melanocytes:
- The microneedling with the Dermapen 4 stimulates and activates existing melanocytes from surrounding skin and hair follicles, also known as melanocyte migration
- It’s a combination therapy that assists infusion of active drugs into the skin to activate destroyed or damaged melanocytes
Restore Your Even Complexion
If you’re at your wit’s end with white sun spots, your Authorised Treatment Provider can help advise you on the best course of action. Dermapen Treatments combined with the right at-home active skincare routine of Dp Dermaceuticals™ could help restore colour back into your white spots. Book a consultation today.
If you are a professional and wish to learn how to become a DermapenWorld Authorised Treatment Provider, click here.