“Sunspots” are lesions that appear on the sun-exposed parts of our skin. They are a natural phenomenon. I often tell my patients that they are just a sign of a little “wear and tear”.
Actually there is more than one type of sunspot. The type that comes to mind for most people is the brown, smooth mark that often first appear on the back of hands. Common names for these sunspots are “liver spots” and “age spots”. They do not turn into cancer and are at most a cosmetic issue.
The other common type of sunspot is one that dermatologists call solar or actinic keratoses. They might be noticed as a slightly rough, scaly spot that can feel like fine-grain sandpaper. Occasionally they may evolve into a type of skin cancer, although this is uncommon. However they do indicate a risk of developing skin cancers elsewhere, including melanoma. Solar keratoses don’t always need to be treated… but there are a number of options for treatment including cryotherapy – freezing cold liquid nitrogen treatment (ouch!), creams, and other methods for “resurfacing” the skin.
Of course it can be challenging for people to know the difference when it comes to spots on the skin. Even so, it is important to be aware of your spots, because a new or changing spot might indicate a melanoma. Melanoma, if detected early enough can be cured. To help anyone detect melanoma dermatologists developed a simple ABCDE guideline which you can see by following this link https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/skin-cancer/find/at-risk/abcdes