Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"Can the sun give you spots?"

ZocdocAnswersCan the sun give you spots?


Due to my line of work, I spend very long periods of time outside in the sun, getting a lot of exposure. I'm 44, and not completely healthy but I've never really had skin problems except for acne as a kind, and now I'm getting these white blotchy spots on my arm, near my elbows. Is this from the sun? How dangerous is it?


The sun can have numerous effects on the skin. Some are extremely serious and require medical attention, while some are relatively minor and will heal on their own. In your case, I would strongly recommend that you see your primary care physician to discuss this. A dermatologist, a doctor who specializes in the skin, can also be of help and your primary doctor may send you to one. Your question is not a simple one. Firstly, its hard to know if the skin lesions are related to the sun. There are many diseases which can have skin findings, and its hard to say if the sun exposure is a coincidence. Even if we assume it is from the sun -- there are many different skin findings we must consider. Collectively these are known as photodermatoses. The sun's light is composed of different types of ultraviolet waves -- some of which can be dangerous to the skin. The sun light can causes both non cancerous inflammation (for example light can cause eczema or psoriasis) as well as cancerous lesions. Actinic keratoses and melanoma are both skin cancers that sun light can worsen. I would recommend seeing a dermatologist. In addition, could sun protection with avoidance of sunlight as well as sun screen is important. Good luck!

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.