Menopause and sunlight
It finally feels like summer and we can start enjoying the long days going out at last. I’m finding myself lying out in the sun every second I get, trying to catch up on the vitamin D we’ve all been lacking from staying inside. The sun is one of the main sources of vitamin D, and this is especially important during menopause. We need to remember though, that while sunlight is good for you, too much can be dangerous. We all know of the dangers of sunburn and skin cancer due to too much sun exposure. These problems can be amplified due to the menopause and you may experience sun spots, skin tags and melasma (skin discolouration due to sun). Today we will be talking about sun spots.
What are sun spots?
Sunspots are flat brown spots that develop on areas of your skin that have been exposed to the sun. They’re also known as liver spots, even though they are nothing to do with your liver. Sunspots are harmless, so you do not have to worry about them. They are non cancerous and don’t pose any risk to your health. They do not require treatment unless you’re looking to remove them for aesthetic reasons.
Hyperpigmentation is a condition where patches of skin (in variety of sizes) become darker. This is due to an increased production of melanin. This can happen as a result of various issues- inflammation, skin injuries, but most commonly excessive sun exposure is the culprit. This is a non-threatening condition.
How do you protect your skin other than wearing sunscreen?
Natural remedies for skin spots
- Aloe vera contains certain natural chemicals Aloin and Aloesin that fight hyperpigmentation, and lighten skin.
- Apple cider vinegar contains gentle acid that has skin-lightening properties. Apply regularly with a cotton ball to the area and rinse off after 8-10 minutes.
- Green tea extract seems to have a depigmenting effect due to its anti-oxidants which help skin complexion.
- Liquorice root is a common ingredient in many commercially available topical creams for sunspots as it has been shown to help with skin discoloration caused by sun damage.
- Milk, sour milk, and buttermilk contain lactic acid that may help lighten skin pigmentation and sunspots. Research demonstrates it to be effective also in lightening melasma.
- Vitamin C prevents excessive amounts of melanin from being produced, and in effect, reduces hyperpigmentation.
- Vitamin E. Research based evidence suggests that vitamin E taken with diet and topical vitamin E oil helps to protect your skin against sun damage and lighten sunspots.
- Topical creams. There are several over-the-counter creams available that can be applied to help with sunspots. Creams containing hydroxy acid, glycolic acid, kojic acid, or deoxyarbutin are the most effective.
- Intense pulse light (IPL).IPL removes sunspots by heating and destroying melanin with pulses of light energy. You may need multiple IPL sessions to achieve your desired result.
- Laser resurfacing.With this technique, a device similar to a wand delivers beams of light to the layers of your skin until the sunspots are no longer visible, allowing new skin to grow in its place. Healing can take from 10 to 21 days.
- Chemical peels. Chemical peels consist ofan acid solution applied to sunspots which causes the skin to eventually peel away allowing new skin to grow. It may cause a burning sensation that lasts a few minutes and can be painful.
- Microdermabrasion. During this procedure, an applicator with an abrasive tip gently removes the outermost layer of your skin. After this, a gentle suction is used to remove dead skin. Microdermabrasion causes little to no pain. It is possible to experience some temporary redness and tightness after the procedure.
- Microneedling. This minimally invasive cosmetic procedure uses small needles to prick the skin. A topical anaesthetic may be applied before the procedure to help with the discomfort. This procedure stimulates collagen production (making the skin firmer and smoother), and can help with acne scars, and decrease the appearance of sunspots. After this procedure, your skin might be slightly red and you may experience dryness and flakey skin over several days.