Uneven pigmentation can result from the damaging effects of too much sun exposure. The skin increases the production of melanin, which creates a darker tone, which is why skin looks a darker brown shade from sun tanning. Melanin protects the deeper layers of the skin from sun damage, the darker the skin appears, the more protection it has against the sun.
The sun can also cause a permanent stretching or dilation of small blood vessels, which creates an uneven, reddish appearance.
Solar lentigines, more commonly known as age or liver spots, are flat spots of increased pigmentation that can appear as tan, brown, black or even gray. Spots usually appear in areas that are most exposed to the sun such as the face, hands, arms, and upper back.
Size varies depending on the level of sun exposure. This is typically found on older adults, but can occur in younger people that spend an excessive amount of time in the sun.
Solar elastosis occurs when ultraviolet rays from the sun break down the skin’s connective tissue, collagen and elastin fibers within the dermis. The weakening of the skin’s dermis causes the skin to lose flexibility, leaving vertical creases deep wrinkles and loose sagging skin.
Solar keratoses, also referred to as actinic, appear as rough, scaly raise patches found along the face, ears, lower arms, and hands. They range in color from pink, dark pink, light brown, or brown on fair-skinned people from overexposure of the sun. It is important to note, that although any skin damage will increase the chance of skin cancer, solar keratoses, if left untreated can progress to a type of skin cance known a squamous cell carcinoma.
Labial lentigo is a dark brown lesion that appears usually as a single spot on the lower lip after repeated sun exposure, however it can appear anywhere along the lip’s surface.
Malasma occurs from a combination of over exposure to the sun and an increase in the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone and typically appear on the cheeks, forehead, nose and chin. Women with a darker skin complexion or those who take oral contraceptives, hormone therapy, or are pregnant are most susceptible to mmelasma.
Poikiloderma appears as irregular reddish-brown pigmentation characteristically underneath the chin, down the neck, over the collarbone and chest from too much sun exposure.
Lentigo maligna is a growth that appears most commonly along the face, hands or legs from overexposure to the sun. With increased sun exposure, the dark flat spot that develops will slowly darken and enlarge along the skin and may eventually develop into melanoma, a type of skin cancer that begins on the uppermost skin layer and works its way deeper into the skin’s layers.