Age spots are the little skin blemishes that develop on the skin that are associated with aging and exposure to the harsh radiation of the suns UV rays. Age spots are sometimes referred to as brown spots, stains, or sun spots, and despite the liver spot nickname, have no association with the liver.
Age spots are flat, unlike moles, and range in color from light brown to black. You can generally find these spots on the areas of your skin most exposed to the sun, such as on your arms, face, shoulders, and forehead. Age spots on the hands are extremely common.
The skin protects itself against cuts and other traumas through bruises and scars. In the same way age spots are the skins defense against the suns damage.
“They most commonly occur on the areas that are most often exposed to the sun; the arms, legs, neck, shoulders, chest and facial area.”
Medically, these spots are known as lentigos or liver spots. They are also believed to be a genetic inheritance, and could relate to a bad diet, lack of exercise and poor liver function.
As the skin ages it is less able to regenerate itself from the suns damage. These little tan, brown, grey and black spots appear on the skin’s surface. The skin’s pigment, called melanin, accumulates on the surface (epidermis) and form these little collection of darker marks that are noticeable on the skin. They most commonly occur on the areas that are most often exposed to the sun; the arms, legs, neck, shoulders, chest and facial area. Since the liver spots are caused by age and sun exposure, they can therefore occur on all skin types. Too many people allow these unsightly skin blemishes go unaddressed.
Fortunately, they are not harmful. They are just a sign of the years gone by. However, it is important to notice any radical changes in size, color, or relief of these blemishes. Should any strange changes occur immediately consult your medical doctor.
As with many other skin and health problems, the best cure is prevention. To avoid unwanted age spots the best option is to simply stay out of the sun. Otherwise use a high factor sun protective cream that guards the skin against the harmful sun-rays.
Protecting the skin properly at a young age will prevent not only age spots but also serious skin diseases such as skin cancer. This will not only protect against blemishes and diseases but also those unwanted fine lines and wrinkles. Even if you already have these age spots you can prevent them from getting worse by looking after and protecting your skin now. It’s never too late.
Most importantly, don’t forget to protect your skin from the sun. Don’t get down or desperate when all of a sudden you notice these markings appear on your skin. There are many options to rid them and very convenient treatment methods that will help you remove these blemishes or simply make them appear less prominent. Depending on each personal development of the age spots, one can find the adequate treatment.
Lightening pigmentation is a gradual process, but results are noticeable and cumulative. It can take from four weeks to several months for the full results.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock your entire life, you’re eventually going to have to deal with age spots. Knowing about their removal now can save you a lot of hassles later on.
There are some nutritionists who believe that sun spots are signs of a selenium deficiency and suggest taking supplements to remove age spots. Other more invasive methods associated with age spot removal are freezing, skin sanding, and electrical needles. However, none of these treatments are advised as they tend to leave white spots and scarring.
Most experts agree that the best and safest way to treat age spots are non-surgical aesthetic procedures like IPL Photo-facial, Microdermabrasion, and Chemical Peels.
Firstly, make sure that when exposed to direct sunlight, use protective clothing and high factor sun protection lotions. By simply applying Alpha hydroxyl acid or Beta hydroxyl acid gels to the affected area one can reduce the size and color of these discolorations.
- Retin-A: The topical prescription medication known as Retin-A is a great fading cream. This treatment usually takes about 6 months to notice the difference.
- Alpha Hydroxyl Peel: Alpha hydroxyl peels, a type of chemical peel, are a faster way of treating age spots as this technique uses a mild acid that removes the top skin layers and new skin takes its place.
- Cryotherapy: Cryotherapy is a “freezing” technique whereby liquid nitrogen is applied to the spots and a localized frostbite treatment occurs. After a few weeks, the treated age spots then fall off and the underlying rejuvenated skin appears.
- Laser treatment: Laser treatment is the most effective and the most expensive option for getting rid of age spots.
- A laser that has a fine affinity for brown spots on the skin passes harmlessly through the top layer of the skin. When it reaches the brown blemishes, it releases an energy that causes melanosomes to break the unwanted particles.
- These particles are then removed by the body’s immune system.
- A little crust forms that must be taken care of.
Don’t remove the scabs until they fall off as unsightly scars can be left behind.
- Eventually the crust falls off after about 3-4 weeks.
- New unblemished skin appears.
Please remember that pigmentation can only be effectively treated if you use a sunscreen. Sun exposure combined with other factors is the primary cause of age spots, and no treatment will help without good sun protection and avoidance. Any sunscreen with SPF 30+ will be sufficient to protect your skin from over-exposure to the sun.
All of these are can be good options for various individuals. A favorite for many are the chemical peels.
For pigmentation problems I would recommend the Lactic 50% Acid peel or the Glycolac 60% Acid. Both of these Skin Laboratory products are safe for use on dark skin, and are effective against hyperpigmentation. The Glycolac/60 also contains Glycolic acid which helps to stimulate collagen in the epidermis causing a reduction in lines and fuller skin. By getting the combination you can get both in one treatment.
The Glycolac acid peel can…
- even tone
- reduce fine lines
- stimulate skin to be fuller
The Lactic acid is slightly better at helping to fade pigmentation. The Glycolic/Lactic (Glycolac) combination peel will treat age spots as well, but when you want to focus on lightening pigmentation Lactic/50 will provide better results. However, using the combination peel can produce both benefits in one treatment.
“The Lactic acid peel is best for treating age spots.”
Another benefit of it penetrating deeper into the skin is it also able to stimulate new collagen growth. This helps thicken, firm, and tighten the skin, adding age management to the list of benefits that Lactic acid provides.
Lactic acid is also extremely moisturizing to the skin. It pulls moisture from the air, and locks it into the skin.
The Glycolic acid is best for evening tone and stimulating new collagen growth under the epidermal layer.
When you first start, apply it to a test area for 1 minute and then rinse off. Wait 24 hours, and if no problems exist, then you can apply the peel. We recommend applying once a week at first, and adjust according to your individual skin sensitivity.
Treating freckles or pigmentation is a gradual process. You should start to notice some changes within a couple weeks, but the progress is incremental.
I am a person of color and feel that most people don’t understand my skin’s needs. I have dark spots, too, and my skin is extremely sensitive.
It is our experience that you are quite correct – naturally darker pigmented skin is not well understood. The difference in pigmentation in dark skin is due to the way melanin is distributed, not due to the number of melanocyte cells that produce the melanin.
Caution should be used if applying a peel. The melanocytes in persons of color are easily overstimulated, which can cause a reaction with hyper-pigmentation. Thus a very gradual approach should be used when introducing and increasing the use of a chemical peel.
We recommend that you use a blending method of a couple of drops of HQ+ Peel mixed with a moisturizing sunblock. Use of the sunblock is crucial to protect naturally darker pigmented persons from turning darker.