White spots on the skin from sun exposure: are they dangerous?

After a long summer spent outside in the sun, you may notice new white spots on your skin. What do these spots mean? Are they dangerous? Should I be concerned? Most of the time, these white spots on the skin are a sign of sun damage. Skin cells that have been overexposed to UV rays from the sun will often stop producing melanin, creating areas of depigmentation, or white spots.
White spots on the skin

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These white spots from sun exposure are usually attributed to a condition called idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis.

Find out about the spots on your skin: use SkinVision to check for signs of skin cancer and get an instant risk indication.

What exactly is idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis?

Idiopathic guttate hypomelanosis is a disorder that causes 1 to 10 mm flat white spots to occur, typically on the shins, arms upper back and face. It is usually found in fair-skinned individuals but can also occur on the dark skin. While their exact cause is still unknown, these spots often start to form as a person ages, and more specifically after the age of 40.

The white spots are benign and are thought to be caused by sun exposure, which kills melanocyte cells in the skin. No treatment is usually needed, but preventative measures to block against sun damage should be taken. Topical steroids, creams, and dermabrasion can be used to minimize the appearance of these spots.

Sometimes depigmentation can be caused by other factors and becomes more noticeable after sun exposure. Take a look at other possible causes of white spots on the skin.

Read More: Early melanoma symptoms and how to spot them

Suspicious skin spots? Use SkinVision to check your skin for signs of skin cancer and get an instant risk indication.

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