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What Causes Sun Pigmentation? Can Sunscreen Prevent It?

UV-induced pigmentation or Hyperpigmentation refers to a condition in which patches of skin become darker in colour than the normal surrounding skin. These spots are also referred to as Sunspots or age spots. These small, darkened patches are usually found on the hands and face or other areas frequently exposed to the sun.

Hyperpigmentation is caused by an increase in the production and transfer of Melanin in the skin. This can also be caused by age, hormonal influences or skin injury but excessive sun exposure which disrupts natural Melanin production is the primary cause. We’re not saying that SPF can reverse ageing, but even in cases where the original hyperpigmentation is due to other causes, the condition is worsened by repeated sun exposure.

In addition to seeking shade and reducing sun exposure, using a broad-spectrum sunscreen and reapplying it through the day is your best defence. Look for a sunscreen with high UVA protection (PA Rating) as UVA is more responsible for causing sunspots. A sunscreen tinted with iron oxides might offer better protection against High Energy Visible light which is now being studied as another cause of Hyperpigmentation.

Skin tanning, however, is a different kind of pigmentation. To read more on this phenomenon, read our blog on what is tanning and how sunscreen can prevent it.

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