Photo by Sergey Chetvertnykh from Pexels – CC0 License
Getting older doesn’t necessarily cause “age spots.” Extended exposure to ultraviolet sun rays is more likely to cause these unsightly blotches on the skin than aging. This is why age spots are also referred to as “sun spots.” They can also be known as liver spots, brown spots, and lentigo.
These spots occur when our skin produces too much lipofuscin. Lipofuscin is a dark substance that colors our skin pigment. These blotchy pigmented spots can begin appearing as early as the late twenties, but are most common after the age of 55 (hence the name).
Other factors that could make you more susceptible to age spots besides UV rays (regardless of age), are smoking, a diet high in refined sugars and fats, a lack of vitamins, and over consumption of poor quality saturated oils.
Here are some ways you can help prevent and treat age spots:
As is the case with most skin conditions, age spots are much simpler to prevent than to cure. Your diet has a lot to do with reducing your chances of developing this unsightly condition. Eating a diet rich in orange vegetables, such as carrots and yams, and green leafy vegetables, such as collard greens and watercress, may help reduce your chances of developing these spots as you age.
These foods are rich in antioxidants that help fight off damaging free radicals that are created as the result of too much exposure to the sun. They are also foods that are rich in Vitamin A and carotene, which helps keep your skin in top condition and more resistant to ultraviolet rays.
If you have already developed age spots, the good news is that you can learn some ways to diminish the way they look. Several products on the market today can fade them so they are less noticeable. The active ingredient in these over the counter products is a chemical called hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is a mild bleaching agent that helps lighten the appearance of all kinds of skin discolorations, including age spots, scars, and freckles. Some prescription versions of this cream can also contain topical Vitamin A, which can help further fade the look of these spots.
Age spots that appear dramatically discolored, large, or pop up in obvious places such as the face may be treated with some slightly more invasive cosmetic procedures. One of the most popular cosmetic treatments for age spots is a chemical peel. These peels contain anywhere from 70% to 80% glycolic acid and gently remove damaged layers of skin to reduce the appearance of spots.
Yet another option is laser resurfacing. In this procedure, the age spots are literally burned away using a sophisticated, targeted laser. However, this treatment only works well on very pale skin with very dark age spots. This is because laser treatments need a contrast of colors (black on white) to do their job effectively. Darker age spots on dark skin do not respond well at all to these treatments. If the age spot is lighter, purple, or an odd color, laser resurfacing may also not succeed in removing it.
One cost effective and natural way to reduce age spots is to simply keep out of the sun, wear sunscreen, and wear long sleeved shirts. You should always take precautions to protect all of your exposed skin if you know you’re going to be in a place where you are likely to be exposed to a lot of ultraviolet light.
Although most age spots are harmless blotches, the early stages of skin cancer can masquerade as innocent looking dark spots. Your physician or dermatologist should check any spot that enlarges, thickens, changes color, itches, or bleeds. Irregularly shaped dark spots that change in color or increase in size could be the early warning sign of serious skin cancers.
If you have any questions about procedures that could help you reduce the appearance of age spots, including microneedling, chemical peels, dermabrasion, and laser resurfacing, contact Athré Facial Plastics today!