What Are Age Spots?
Age spots are dark, brown, or flat dots on the skin. Given that they appear mostly on the areas exposed to open air (sun), some also call them sunspots. Other names include liver spots and solar lentigines.
What do Age Spots Look Like?
Age spots can be dark, brown, or grey. They have rounded edges and increase the pigmentation and tanning of the skin.
You can differentiate between age spots and other conditions such as freckles by simply looking at their color. Also, age spots occur on your body parts that are mostly exposed to the sun- this mainly includes the back of hands, shoulders, top of feet, face, and back.
As their name suggests, age spots appear on the skin as people get older; generally, after 40. Anyway, younger people can also get them.
A single ‘spot’ can be up to ½ inches. Age spots don’t need any medical care, but if you are confused between the spot on your skin and other conditions, you can always go to a medical center.
Raised Age Spots
Sometimes age spots become slightly raised on your screen. Medically, it is called Seborrheic Keratosis. These spots can be yellow and brown. They are painless and benign (non-cancerous). Of course, raised age spots make the skin not look so good, but you still don’t have to worry about them medically.
Raised age spots start slowly and eventually become thicker and darker with time. They look like someone stuck them on the skin- like a gum.
Age spots concern on Asian skin
A recent study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4283052/) found that dark spots are a bigger concern in Asian women than wrinkles.
Asian skin tends to be oilier than other skin. Also, due to a higher hydration level in the Asian skin, their melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells might not always produce and spread melanin evenly on the skin.
The melanin is responsible for saving our skin from UV rays. Anyway, when there is more melanin on a skin surface than needed, it becomes darker. This phenomenon is called hyperpigmentation.
Sometimes, hyperpigmentation escalates to things more than age spots, including Melasma. Melasma spots are bigger than age spots, and they also become more prevalent during pregnancy.
You see, Asian skin is different from other skin due to hyperpigmentation. This is why other skins have wrinkles when they age, but Asian skin has age spots. There is also another condition called hypopigmentation, in which the body’s immune system attacks pigment cells. It is caused mostly by vitiligo.
Can you get rid of age spots?
Yes, you can get rid of age spots. Although no one can guarantee that you can completely remove the spots from your skin, there are various procedures that can lighten the spots and make them unnoticeable. Anyway, the best way to cope with age spots is to prevent them from getting in the first place.
Age Spot Causes and Treatment
Age Spot Cause
Like we said before, age spot happens because of hyperpigmentation; that is when there is more melanin on a certain part of your skin than needed. However, doctors aren’t really sure why hyperpigmentation happens in the first place.
Are Age Spots Hereditary?
Age Spots may or may not be hereditary. Anyway, even if they are genetic, you can prevent them if you don’t expose your skin to the sun often. Moreover, hereditary age spots usually happen during early age.
Age Spot Prevention
Before talking about the treatments, we need to discuss how you can prevent age spots:
- Don’t get exposed to the sun a lot, especially between 10 AM and 3 PM. Well, this is not to say that you shouldn’t get out in the open or sunbath if you like to. Just make sure you don’t get overexposed.
- Wear a sunscreen with an SPF factor of at least 30 before sun exposure. Do it before 30 minutes. If you are out in the sun, you need to reapply your sunscreen lotion every 2 hours.
- Wear apparel such as hats, long sleeves, etc. to help protect your body parts from the naked sun when you are out. You can get UV-blocking clothes on the market, which can be tremendously helpful.Tanning beds can also contribute to age spots. Avoid them as much as you can.
How to Treat Age Spots?
In case you have age spots, the first thing you should do is not worry. Remember, stress is a factor in every disease and condition, and you don’t want to make age spots bigger concern than it actually is.
After all, age spots are natural spots and happen to many. Also, they are there, but they don’t do any further harm to your body. So, you should stop overthinking or worrying.
Having said that, there are many ways you can diminish or get rid of them:
For a condition such as this, home treatments are the most affordable and effective. Even if some of the treatments haven’t been ‘scientifically proved,’ experience says that they work.
Aloe Vera Gel: You can smear the spots directly with aloe vera gel for thirty minutes in the morning and evening. Rinse thoroughly.
Apple Cider Vinegar/ Lemon Juice: Age spots are yet another skin condition that apple cider vinegar can treat. You need to mix equal amounts of ACV and water in a bowl and apply it on the dark spots. Also, you can add lemon or some orange juice in the mixture. By the way, ACV with the mother apple is the best.
Lemon: Instead of making lemon juice, you can slice a lemon in half and apply it to the dark spot. Leave it for ten minutes before rinsing. You can do it two times a day, and if your skin is sensitive, you should mix the juice with water just like ACV.
Potato Slices: Similar to lemon, you can cut potato slices in half and apply it to the skin for 30 minutes. Also, as they don’t have acid, they are the better option for sensitive skin. Do it twice every day, even if it is more effective during the night before sleep.
Buttermilk/ Yogurt: You can use a cotton swab or directly apply buttermilk or yogurt on the affected area and leave it for thirty minutes before rinsing. Doing so regularly will not only remove the spots but also brighten your skin.
Papaya: You can make your own papaya skin lotion. To do this, take the seeds off green papaya and blend the flesh in a blender. Apply it over the dark spots and leave it for thirty minutes.
TIP: Eat a balanced diet consisting of all the necessary vitamins and nutrients. Only then will your body grow a strong immune system, which can help these home treatments for age spots to become effective.
Medical Treatments for Liver Spots
Medical treatments are more aggressive and, of course, more effective. Here are some ways dermatologists can help remove the spots:
Laser and intense pulsed light therapy
In Laser therapy, a light beam of certain wavelengths is focused directly on the spots. You need to see your doctor two or three times, and it might take some weeks or months for the spots to fade away. The side effects of laser therapy include changes in skin color, pain, and in rare times, scarring, infection, and bleeding.
The dermatologist will apply a freezing solution (especially liquid nitrogen) on the affected area. This will make the spots milder and can discolor the skin. Cryotherapy is only useful for smaller age spots area and can have side effects like skin irritation or permanent scarring.
Chemical peel means applying acid on your skin, which will remove its outer layer with the age spots. Then, new skin will grow in its place. Anyway, it still carries the risk of permanent skin discoloration. You might need to visit the doctor several times, and your skin will redden after the treatment.
Dermabrasion and Microdermabrasion
The idea is similar to chemical peel; this time, instead of acid, a fast spinning brush is used. Dermabrasion is more intense than microdermabrasion. Side effects, including scarring and redness.
Age Spots vs. Melanoma
Melanoma is the worst form of skin cancer. Usually, the difference between Melanoma and age spots is that the former has a more irregular border and can have more than one color.
Melanoma spots are more itchy, painful, and tender. The shape is like that of a ‘duckling,’ with one side being more irregular than the other. Also, melanoma spots can grow to be much larger than age spots. Anyway, remember that even if they are small, they can be equally problematic.
You can also tell the difference between these two depending on where the spots occur. Age spots happen only in places that are regularly exposed to sunlight. Also, they happen mostly to people who are more than 40 years of age.
It is always the best idea to go to a medical practitioner if you have any concerns or doubts.
Age spots aren’t medically worrisome or dangerous, but they can be very irritating. Anyway, you don’t need to worry as they are only natural, and there still are a lot of treatments- both home and medical center-based to get rid of them. Additionally, you should always visit the doctor if you think the lesion is more than just an age spot.