Is a sun spot actually an age spot or what?

And don’t assume that only “old” people get age spots; they can begin in middle age.

What a Doctor Says …

When it comes to sun spots vs. age spots, I consulted with Richard Bezozo, MD, President of MoleSafe, the world’s most advanced melanoma screening program.

“Sun spots and age spots are the same thing, which result from too much sun exposure” says Dr. Bezozo. These benign lesions are also called liver spots.

“They are most common on sun exposed areas of the skin. Sun spots are the result of a buildup of melanin in the skin.”

Small sun spots can sometimes pass as common moles. If you discover what appears to be a new mole, have your dermatologist inspect it with a handheld lens called a dermatoscope.

A new mole in an older person, particularly over age 40, may actually be a melanoma, even if it appears normal.

The term “lentigo” is sometimes used to refer to a sun spot in people of middle age and older. The plural is lentigines, and these can strongly resemble moles.

They are harmless, but any new spot (call it “age” or “sun”) that looks like a mole should be checked out by your doctor.

“Melanin typically spreads throughout the skin as an even tan, but when we age, melanin can clump. Prevention is the best cure because sun damage is cumulative.”

To help prevent sun or age spots, Dr. Bezozo recommends the following measures:

  • Avoid the sun between 10 am and 4 pm.
  • Use a broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunblock with an SPF of at least 25.
  • Wear clothes with built-in sunscreen.
  • Wear a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses.
  • Avoid sunbathing.

“For people with sun spots, there are some creams available that may reduce some of the darkening; speak to your dermatologist for recommendations,” says Dr. Bezozo.

There are more new cases yearly of skin cancer than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers combined. The MoleSafe system produces high-resolution diagnostic images and creates a profile for your skin that’s monitored for any changes in moles.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  

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Top image: Shutterstock/DUANGJAN J