Age Spots: Causes, Prevention and Treatment
Age spots, often referred to as liver spots or solar lentigines, vary in size and shape and can often be seen on the hands, shoulders, face, and arms. This is due to the fact that these places are exposed more to the sun. They are flat, and can be tan, brown or black in colouring. They are commonly seen in adults that are over the age of 50, but if younger individuals spend a lot of time in the sun, they can see them appear as well. Most age spots are harmless as they are not cancerous. They are most seen in individuals that have a fair complexion, however those with darker skin tones can easily have age spots.
What are the symptoms of age spots?
As stated above, age spots are flat, and appear to be brown, tan or black in colour. They occur on skin that is most exposed to the sun. They can vary in size from the size of a freckle to ½ inch in diameter. Often times, age spots will cluster together, making them appear to be larger.
Age spots are harmless but they should be examined from time to time to make sure that they are not a form of skin cancer. If the spot increases in size in a short time frame, becomes dark in pigmentation, has an irregular border, itches, is tender, bleeds, or has an unusual colour combination, it is best to be examined by a dermatologist to rule out skin cancer.
Are there any ways that age spots can be avoided?
Age spots can be avoided by wearing a high quality sunscreen of at least SPF 30. Apply the sunscreen half an hour before heading outdoors to allow it to soak into the skin. Individuals should wear a hat when in the sun, as well as a pair of sunglasses. Avoid the sun during the peak hours of 10 am to 3 pm.
What are the treatments for age spots?
There are many different treatments used by skin specialists for age spots. These treatments include:
Photo Rejuvenation is a non-surgical process that uses powerful light technology. Pigmentation of the skin will appear to be lighter after just a few treatments. Photo rejuvenation works well to quickly fade age spots on the skin. There is minimal discomfort felt during the process, and after just one treatment, there will be noticeable results. Treatment takes as little as half an hour, and individuals may return to normal life activities immediately after a session. The number of treatments will be based on how severe the age spots are. Side effects are rarely seen, with some minor swelling and redness possibly seen after the treatment, but this usually dissipates after an hour or so.
Cryotherapy is freezing of the skin. Liquid nitrogen will be applied to destroy the pigmentation of the skin. Once the skin begins to heal, there will be a lighter colouring. There is the risk of scarring or discoloration of the skin that is permanent.
Dermabrasion may be used to rid the skin of age spots. The surface of the skin will be sanded down with a rotating brush. New skin will grow in the place of the skin that is being removed. Scabs will form after the old skin is sanded away. Skin will be red temporarily after the process.
Medications may be prescribed that can bleach the skin or make the age spots fade away. Medications may make the skin red, itchy, or cause burning. They may also dry out the skin. It is crucial that if medication is used for age spots, a high quality sunscreen be worn when exposed to the sun.