Age spots are flat, brown, grey, or black spots that develop on the areas of your skin that are most exposed to the sun such as the face, back of hands, shoulders, back and feet. Although young people can also develop age spots, they are more common in people older than 40. The spot sizes vary from person to person, but normally range from freckle size to more than 1/2 inches across.
In many cases, these spots group together and appear like cancerous growths. But, they don’t pose a health threat. In fact, they are harmless and require no treatment at all. People, especially women, want to get rid of them only for cosmetic reasons. Just like dark spots, blemishes and wrinkles, age spots can affect your appearance and make you look old.
Causes of age spots
Like most of skin problems, age spots are also caused by excessive exposure to sun rays. Prolonged exposure to UV rays boosts production of melanin in the upper layer of skin. Some areas where melanin production is higher, age spots appear due to clumping of the pigment. Despite being called as liver spots, they are not related to liver at all. They just derive their name from it because earlier liver conditions were considered the main cause behind the appearance of these spots.
While it is easy to identify the condition by just looking at the spots, many times people confuse it with other skin conditions like moles, skin cancer or warts. The spots on your skin are age spots if:
- There colour ranges from light brown to black
- They are painless
- Their texture is the same as the rest of your skin
- They are present on sun-exposed areas
If you are still not sure, consider making an appointment with your dermatologist.
How to get rid of age spots
There are many ways to lighten the appearance of age spots. Here we list few of the most popular age spots removal methods:
- Topical lotions and creams
Skin lightening creams are very effective in fading age spots. You can choose to use bleaching creams that contains hydroquinone and retinoids. While these are quite effective, there is a risk of side-effects like burning, irritation and dryness. Alternatively you can pick natural skin lightening creams that are not only safer, but are also effective. We recommend Skinception Illuminatural 6i Advanced Skin Lightener or Makari Caviar Face Lightening Cream.
Dermabrasion and chemical peels are often used for age spots removal. In dermabrasion the upper surface layer of your skin is removed with a rapidly rotating brush. The process may result in redness and scab formation, but they last only for a few days. As dermabrasion treatment at salons can be costly, many men and women chose to use at-home Skin Doctors Powerbrasion System for similar results.
Apart from this, chemical peels are also popular for reducing the appearance of age spots. Normally chemical peels involve applying an acid to burn the outer layer of your skin, revealing the inner new skin. As harsh chemicals are used in the peels, they might cause redness, discolouration and irritation.
- Laser treatment
Laser therapy can also be used to destroy melanin-producing cells. The best thing about laser is that it gradually fades age spots without damaging the skin's surface. So, no redness or irritation; but it may result in the slight discoloration of the skin. The downside of this procedure is its cost. Laser therapies can take more than one session to fade the spot and hence can be really costly.
- Surgical procedure
Cryotherapy can be used for age spots removal. The process involves applying liquid nitrogen to freeze the age spots and destroy it. Freezing may temporarily irritate the skin and cause permanent scarring or discoloration. No matter what method you use for age spots removal, you must use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 to prevent things from getting worse.
How to prevent age spots?
Protecting your skin from harmful rays of the sun is the best way to prevent age spots. Avoid exposing your skin to UV radiations, especially between 10am to 4pm. Always wear broad-spectrum sunscreen and reapply it after every 2 to 3 hours. When out in the day, try covering up your skin by wearing full sleeved clothes and using an umbrella.