This past weekend, while basking in the 91-degree Florida weather, my friend just couldn’t understand why I made it my duty to lather up in sunscreen and wear a wide-brimmed hat as sun protection.

After a debate about why people of color still need to wear SPF despite the fact that our increased level of melanin allows us to naturally create our own, I was able to convince her to lather up. This isn’t the first time I’ve had the infamous “black-people-need-to wear-sunscreen” debate and today the discussion continues with a glimpse of a skin condition that’s most common among young adults: sunspots.

Sunspots (also known as age spots or liver spots) are irregularly shaped patches of discolored skin that are either several shades lighter or darker than your normal complexion. They can be caused by a fungal infection called tinea veriscolor or excessive sun exposure.

In African-Americans, the results of sunspots can be the loss of skin color (hypopigmentation) or an increase in skin color (hyperpigmentation). Although, these skin lesions are usually harmless and painless, they can become a concern as they affect your appearance. Here are some ways to combat them.

Practice a Daily Skincare Regime

Cleanse, exfoliate and moisturize your skin like it’s nobody’s business. Look for ingredients such as Vitamin C and other antioxidants to diminish wrinkles as well as anti-inflammatories such as zinc, green tea and chamomile to avoid redness. Not only does treating your skin to a quick-spa experience everyday help prep it for environmental strain, it also keeps you looking fresh-faced.

Avoid excessive exposure to the sun.

The best way to prevent dark spots is by avoiding excessive sun exposure and wearing at least an SPF15 when exposed to the sun. Even if you’re not in direct sunlight, you can be affected by ambient light so lather up everyday.

Treat yourself to a spa day.

Take an occasional trip to your local spa to see a licensed esthetician for a facial or Vitamin C exfoliation. It will repair and reinvigorate skin.

Seek treatment.

There are some treatments available if you have sunspots such as over-the-counter and prescription medicines that can yield results in up to four weeks. However, keep in mind it’s more than likely the fungus will grow back. There are also freezing and laser treatments available to combat sun spots that have a longer-lasting effect.

See a dermatologist.

Be sure to see a dermatologist if you think you have sunspots to make sure they are not cancerous and to learn more about how to treat or remove it.

-Margaret Francois

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