Q&A: What is the best treatment to reverse or remove sun damage and freckles?

Ask A Doctor Question: 

Can sun damage and freckles be reversed and completely removed and if so , what is the best procedure ? 

- Carol


William W. Ehrlich, MD FAACS - LocateADoc.com

Dear Carol:
Sun damage and freckles cannot be completely reversed or completely removed.  
Having said that, several options are available to you to decrease pigmentation (freckles), perhaps diminish sun damage, and protect against further damage, perhaps the most important step.
First, protection:  Use a sunblock of at least SPF 50 (preferably with zinc oxide blocker), apply at least every 2-3 hours while in the sun, particularly at the water or on snow.  Wear a wide brimmed hat.  Cover your shoulders with something. Wear sunglasses that actually block UV rays.
Second, diminishing damage:  IPL (intense pulsed light) treatments can often diminish freckles, as can mild to moderate depth skin peels, either chemical or laser (erbium or CO2).  There is some evidence that repeated IPL treatments may reverse some of the sun damage.  If you continue to exposure your skin to the sun, your freckles will return and your sun damage will worsen, even if you have these treatments.  There are various melanin diminishing skin creams, one of which is Lytera, others are on the market. 
The most important thing is to stop the sun exposure, as much and as soon as possible.  Good luck.

--William W. Ehrlich, MD FAACS
Oklahoma City, OK

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