Age/ Brown spots

What are Age/ Brown spots?

These are also called liver spots and solar lentigines. They vary in size and usually appear on the face, hands, shoulders and arms.

Who gets Age/ Brown spots?

Age spots are very common in adults older than 50. But younger people can get them too, especially if they spend a lot of time in the sun.

How do Age spots look?

Age spots can look like cancerous growths. But true age spots are harmless and don’t need treatment. They are flat, oval areas of increased pigmentation, usually tan, brown or black in color. These occur on skin that has had the most sun exposure over the years, such as the backs of hands, tops of feet, face, shoulders and upper back. Age spots range from freckle size to about a 1/2 inch and can group together.

When to see a doctor?

These age spots need to be evaluated by a doctor if a spot:

  • Is darkly pigmented
  • Is rapidly increasing in size
  • Has an irregular border
  • Has an unusual combination of colors
  • Is accompanied by itching, redness, tenderness or bleeding

What are the Causes of age spots?

Age spots are caused by overactive pigment cells. Ultraviolet (UV) light accelerates the production of melanin. On the areas of skin that have had years of frequent and prolonged sun exposure, age spots appear when melanin becomes “clumped” or is produced in high concentrations. The use of commercial tanning lamps and tanning beds can also contribute to the development of age spots.

How are age spots treated?

Medications :

Prescription bleaching creams (hydroquinone) used alone or with retinoids (tretinoin) and a mild steroid may gradually fade the spots over several months. Use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 is strongly advised if you use medication treatments. The treatments may result in temporary itching, redness, burning or dryness.

Laser and intense pulsed light therapy :

Laser and intense pulsed light therapies destroy melanin-producing cells (melanocytes) without damaging the skin’s surface. Treatments with a laser or intense pulsed light typically require two to three sessions.

After treatment, age spots fade gradually over several weeks or months. Laser therapy has few side effects, but it may result in slight discoloration of the skin. Sun protection is necessary after laser or intense pulsed light therapy.

Dermabrasion and Microdermabrasion :

Dermabrasion consists of sanding down the surface layer of your skin with a rapidly rotating brush. Microdermabrasion is a less aggressive approach that leaves mild skin blemishes with a smoother appearance. You’ll need a series of procedures over months to get the full effect.

Chemical peel :

A chemical peel involves applying an acid, which burns the outer layer of your skin, to the age spots. As your skin peels, new skin forms to take its place. Several treatments may be necessary before you notice any results.

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