“With age comes wisdom.” As our years accumulate, we get wiser and more graceful. We also get more age spots.
Everyone is familiar with age spots, those small patches of dark skin that scatter over our hands, shoulders, back, neck, and face. If you feel like you’re getting more age spots as you get older, you aren’t mistaken. Age spots often become abundant as patients age. Fortunately, there are many ways that age spots can be prevented and treated, both at home and in the clinic.
Do you have unwanted spots? With so much fun to be had in the California sun, patients around Stockton are susceptible to age spots. Here, Dr. Silverton shares everything you need to know about age spots and how to prevent them naturally and cosmetically.
What Exactly Are Age Spots?
Also referred to as solar lentigines, sun spots or liver spots, age spots are a form of hyperpigmentation that manifest as small dots on your skin. Age spots can affect all skin types but are most commonly seen in people with lighter skin.
Varying in size, density, and color, these pesky spots commonly appear on adults who are over 50 or younger individuals who spend a lot of time in the sun. Age spots are directly correlated to sun exposure, as they are the result of damage inflicted on the skin by sunlight.
What Causes Age Spots?
Age spots occur because of overactive pigment cells in our skin.
A natural process that gives our skin, hair, and eyes their color, pigment cells in our skin produce a pigment called melanin. When exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light, these pigment cells produce melanin at an increased rate.
As such, skin that is continuously exposed to the suns’ UV rays over the years becomes marked with age spots due to overactive pigment cells.
Should I Be Concerned?
In most cases, age spots are purely cosmetic and do not require the attention of a doctor. However, there are some similarities between age spots and melanoma, an insidious type of skin cancer.
If you notice any of the following changes in what once was a small brown spot on your skin, you should consult a doctor:
- A rapid increase in size
- Rapidly darkening in color
- Irregularly shaped
- Combination of colors
- Itchiness, sensitivity, redness or bleeding
Age spots aren’t harmful, but they can be unattractive. If you’re bothered by the appearance of age spots, contact your doctor. Treatment options are available.
Preventing and Treating Age Spots
Age spots occur due to the overproduction of melanin caused by UV rays from sunlight.
We are all familiar with the expression “prevention is the best cure.” Where age spots are concerned, this couldn’t be more applicable. If you follow the advice as outlined below, you may be able to avoid age spots entirely
Prevention is the Best Treatment
To avoid age spots altogether, or to prevent new spots developing after treatment, you need to limit your sun exposure:
- Stay out of the sun either side of midday. From roughly 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the sun is highest in the sky, making the UV rays more intense. If you can avoid being outside in the middle of the day, do so.
- Apply sunscreen. Everyone should hear the advice offered by Baz Luhrmann in his immortal song, “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen).” Before you go outside, put on SPF 30+ sunscreen. It will not only save you from age spots but will pay so many other dividends, including fewer wrinkles and a lower risk of skin cancer.
- Cover up. “No hat, no play.” This idiom shouldn’t be just for the kids on the playground. If you work outside or spend extended periods in the sun, wear long pants and sleeves and a wide-brimmed hat. You should also protect the nape of your neck. If the sun can’t get to your skin, age spots can’t grow.
Of course, in an ideal world, we’d all follow this advice, and our office would never need to treat another sunspot again. Realistically though, sun exposure happens. Prevent where you can and see us for helping age spots and other signs of sun damage as they occur.
Say Goodbye to Those Age Spots
If you have so far led a life of fun in the sun and not taken preventative measures to protect your skin from UV rays, you likely have age spots. In this case, prevention is too late, so Dr. Silverton discusses the best natural and cosmetic ways you can erase them.
As age spots are caused by darker pigmentation, treatments aim to lighten the skin tone and disperse the melanin clumps that are responsible for their formation.
Natural Treatments for Age Spots
Many fruits and vegetables contain compounds that have bleaching and exfoliating properties, and these serve as natural treatments to age spots. Natural products such as aloe vera, apple cider vinegar, buttermilk, garbanzo beans, and horseradish all reportedly lighten skin that has been darkened by age spots. However, two of the most effective natural remedies are lemons and orange peel.
- Lemons– High in citric acid and vitamin C, lemon juice is a natural bleaching agent. You can apply lemon juice directly to the areas of your skin with dark spots, or dilute it slightly with water. Persistently doing this daily over several weeks will fade to age spots and create a more even skin tone.
- Orange peel– The vitamin C and calcium in orange peels help draw toxins and free radicals from your skin, thus helping your body form new, lighter skin layers.
Natural remedies for age spots may provide a minimal reduction to the appearance of this skin condition, but in-office treatments are much more effective.
Cosmetic Treatments for Age Spots
Cosmetic treatments for age spots generally include the use of skin bleaching lotions that can be prescribed during a consultation. Surgeons can also use facials and chemical peels to diminish age spots immediately.
Creams and lotions work similarly to the natural remedies of lemon juice and orange peel, just in a more targeted way. The ideal treatment option will depend on the size, color, and location of the age spots that wish to be removed.
We all enjoy the summer sun. Unfortunately, it can be brutal to our skin, and for some people, this means getting unwanted pigmentation in the form of age spots. Although harmless, these unwanted spots can make you look older and muddle your complexion.
For age spots, prevention and properly protecting your skin from the sun is the best treatment. After you prevent, come see us for effective treatment options to lighten age spots and restore an even skin tone.
Reach out to Dr. Silverton in Stockton, CA, at 209 952 2251 or fill out his online form to book a consultation and discuss the best way for you to even out your skin tone.