Age Spots

What are age spots?

If you have ever seen flat black, brown, or gray spots on anyone before or even on yourself, then you have seen age spots! Age spots have so many names – sun spots, senile lentigo, liver spots, or solar lentigines. They are found in areas that have long exposure time to the sun.

What causes age spots?

Melanin production in abundant quantity is one of the top reasons for the development of age spots. Melanin is a skin pigment that gives the skin its typical color. Also counted amongst the causes of age spots are sun exposure (including ultraviolet light exposure) and skin aging. Tanning beds can be exposed to ultraviolet light and hence can be one of the causes of age spots.

Areas of your skin where you are likely going to have age spots are areas that get more exposed to the sun. Such areas are:

  • forearms
  • face
  • shoulders
  • back of the hands
  • upper back part (i.e. the part close to the neck)

Who is at risk for age spots?

Age spots have no regards for age, race, or gender. So long as you are human and you are alive, expect to develop age spots someday. However, the condition is more prominent in certain people. Examples of such people include:

  • those more than 40 years old
  • those that are fair-skinned
  • those with a history of frequent sunlight exposure
  • those with a history of frequent use of tanning beds

Age spots
Photo Credit: Daily Mail


What are the symptoms of age spots?

Age spots come in different shades – light brown and black etc. There is no distinct difference between their texture and that of unaffected skin parts. The affected parts are the sun-stricken parts. They have no history of causing pains.

How age spots are diagnosed

It won’t take much effort from your doctor to diagnose you of age spots. He will do that by a close look at your skin. And if your age spots are proving to cause your doctor much confusion, a biopsy will be done on you. In a biopsy, your skin tissue will be removed and tested for the presence of other conditions other than age spots i.e. cancer.

How are age spots treated?

Age spots carry no harm in them neither do they carry any health implications.

It’s just a way of your skin reminding you that you aren’t growing any younger. It has got no treatment. Or do you have any treatment that can stop you from growing old? Maybe it’s a death sentence! But I’m sure you want to grow old. But if you are ashamed of growing old, you can minimize your age spots with age spots remover. The manufacturer had you in mind!

Prescription medications

Some of the prescription medications you will be given will be a variety of bleaching creams you can choose from. They will help the spots to slowly fade away. Hydroquinone is the major content.

Retinoids (tretinoin) may also form part of the cream content.

Several months will be needed for the bleaching creams to fade the age spots.

One bad part about a bleaching or a tretinoin cream is the fact that they have the ability to make your skin to be more sensitive toultraviolet damage.

This means that if you are considering using a bleaching cream, you also have to consider getting a powerful sunscreen. You will have to wear this sunscreen all the time beginning from the time you began treatment to the time after treatment. It doesn’t matter whether the weather is cloudy orsunny. You must keep wearing it after the spots have faded.

Medical procedures

Aside from the bleaching creams, several other medical procedures exist for removing or reducing age spots. But it is important you know that whatever medical procedure you adopt has a consequence – side effects and complications. You should therefore remember to ask your skin doctor – dermatologist,skin care expert, or plastic surgeon about the treatment that will have the least side effects or complications on you.

Some of the notable medical procedures for age spots treatments are:

  • Intense pulsed light treatment: This procedure emits light wave’s range that passes through your skin. The target of these light waves is your melanin to destroy them. The light waves can in the process break up the age spots also.
  • Chemical peels: These chemicals will peel off the outermost layer of your skin in order to create room for new ones to form.
  • Dermabrasion: This is a procedure that clears off the outermost layers of your skin. The aim is to create space for the development of new ones.
  • Cryosurgery: In cryosurgery, each of the age spots will be frozen with liquid nitrogen. Once frozen and then de-frozen, the spots will break up.

At the end of any of the medical procedures, you should endeavor to always put on sunscreen. This will protect your healing skin from further UV damage. It will also prevent the re-occurrence of the age spots.

Home treatments

More about treating your age spots! Several over-the-counter(OTC) creams for age spots are all over the market. But you shouldn’t expect these OTC creams to be as effective as the prescription creams. You might not get the same result from the two. I will advise you go for OTC creams that contain any of these – hydroquinone, alpha hydroxy acid, deoxyarbutin, glycolic acid, or kojic acid.

You can also consider cosmetics. Although they don’t remove age spots, they can conceal them from the view of you and others.

You should get one that can do that very well for you. Your dermatologist, makeup counter salesperson, or plastic surgeon will be in the best position to recommend what might work well for this purpose.

Preventing age spots

Age spots can be minimized since their development can’t be prevented.

You need to have the following insights regarding this:

  • Staying away from the sun between ten in the morning and three in the afternoon will be a wise choice to make. This is because this is the period when the sun is most intense and harsh on the skin.
  • Wearing sunscreen from Sundays to Sundays! Whatever sunscreen you decide to choose should have a strong sun protection factor (SPF) of nothing less than 30 in rating. It should also have UVA and UVB protection.
  • Applying sunscreen 30 minutes prior to exposure to the sun. This should be reapplied between intervals of two hours. If you perspire profusely or are swimming often, apply it more often.
  • Wearing protective clothing that has the capacity to block UV rays. The protective clothing must have an ultraviolet protection factor of not less than 40. Pants, hats, and long-sleeved shirts are some examples of protective clothing.

What is the long-term outlook?

Age spots aren’t harmful and don’t cause you pain. In rare instances, they can make skin cancer to be more difficult to detect. Emotional stress can trigger the appearance of age spots.

With treatment, you can reduce or even remove them.

You can get ample information from your healthcare provider or a dermatologist about what treatment is best for you.


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