Age Spots

Age Spots

age spots

Age spots, also known as liver spots or solar lentigines, are generally flat brown, gray, or black spots that often vary in size and are most commonly seen on the face, but also appear on the shoulders, arms and hands as well.

More common in adults over the age of 40, there are cases of younger individuals contracting age spots, due to excess Sun exposure. Age spots do not require treatment and are rather harmless, but mimic cancerous growths.

Doctors may order skin biopsies before making any commitment to treatment for cosmetic reasons. The following is a list of several of the common symptoms and causes of age spots:

Symptoms of Age Spots

Symptoms of age spots include a skin lesion that is:

  • Light brown or black colored
  • Present in a flat patch
  • On the forehead, hands, or arms
  • Painless

Causes of Age Spots

Ultraviolet rays are the main cause of age spots. Melanin, the dark pigment located in the epidermis, gives your body its normal color. Extra melanin is produced to protect deep layers of skin when exposed to ultraviolet rays; this is what gives us a tan when lying outside or under a tanning bed. The extra melanin starts to clump when it produces higher concentrations than normal, resulting in age spots. Age spots occur over a long period of time but expedite with increased exposure to ultraviolet rays. Factors that increase your susceptibility to age spots include:

  • Light-colored or fair skin
  • History of frequent sunburns
  • Frequent outdoor work
  • Failure to wear sun protection when outside for long periods during the day

Age spots are common after age 40, and can appear due to unknown causes other than age or UV exposure. There does not appear to be a genetic link in age spots.

Age Spots Treatments

age spots

There are treatments for age spots such as medications, bleaching creams used with retinoid and a mild steroid. This may help the age spots to fade over time, usually several months. Patients are always advised to use sun protection during and after these treatments. By destroying the melanocytes, laser therapy can usually lighten the skin as well. Freezing or cyrotherapy is the procedure in which doctors freeze the age spots in order to destroy the extra pigment. This procedure could cause some scarring.

There is also dermabrasion, which actually sands down the layer of the skin with a rotating brush. This will remove the skins surface and a new layer of skin will prepare to grow. There will be some temporary redness and scabbing following this treatment. Chemical peels can also fade age spots. Acid, which will burn the outer layer of the skin, is applied more than once in order to achieve the lightening affect.

Age spots can be quite disturbing, but normally are completely harmless. The only way to prevent any further spots is to stay out of the prolonged direct sunlight or wear sun block whenever you are outside.

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