Everyone gets age spots! They can be flat, tan, brown or black. They will pop up in the most inconvenient places, areas exposed to the sun like your face, hands and arms. In some ways, age spots are like permanent freckles that become visible after the age 40.
What Causes Age Spots?
Melanin gives skin its normal colour. It also helps protect skin cells from damaging sunlight. The body produces extra melanin in response to the sun, and that is why your skin darkens to a tan. Over time, and after years of sun exposure, your skin may overproduce and accumulate melanin in certain areas. These are age spots.
Age spots are naturally occurring. To prevent age spots (and skin cancer) you should always use sunscreen and avoid sun exposure as much as possible.
Removal of Age Spots
Age spots that have already formed will not disappear without special treatment. Here are three ways we treat age spots:
- Topical skin treatments
Bleaching creams and skin lighteners applied directly to the skin will lessen the visibility and appearance of age spots over time, and gradually return skin to an even tone.
- Physical Removal
Cryosurgery, a treatment that involves freezing the skin, can remove unwanted tissue such as age spots. Other options include microdermabrasion and chemical peels.
- Light treatments
Intense light is targeted at the pigment in the age spots causing it to be destroyed and peel off.
Certain forms of skin cancer may resemble an age spot. Any new or questionable spots, especially a freckle that changes shape, appearance or causes discomfort, should always be examined by a dermatologist.