What are age spots?Also known as solar lentigines, these pigmented (brownish) spots may develop on your face or body. They are caused by excessive exposure to harmful UV rays, and they usually begin appearing around the age of 40.
In most instances, age spots are harmless and medical care is not necessary. However, spots that are unusually dark in color, and those that change in any way, should be examined by a dermatologist, as these could be signs of a cancerous lesion.
Causes of age spotsAge spots are the result of excess melanin, which is the pigment that gives your skin its color. Sunlight stimulates the generation of melanin, giving skin a tanned appearance. However, the excess melanin is not always distributed evenly. When it begins clumping in one location, an age spot appears.
Most patients with age spots have subjected their skin to unprotected sun exposure for many years. This problem can also develop in individuals who use tanning salons regularly. The natural aging process, as well as genetics, affects a person’s susceptibility to this condition.
How you can prevent age spotsThe most important aspect of preventing age spots and many other skin conditions is minimizing your sun exposure. Additional preventive steps you can take include:
- Do not use tanning salons or tanning lamps.
- Protect your skin with a broad-spectrum sunscreen that has an SPF rating of 30.
- Wear protective clothing, such as long pants, long sleeves, and wide-brimmed hats.
- Limit the amount of time you spend outdoors during peak hours.
- Remember that UV rays can penetrate car windshields, windows in buildings, and cloud cover.
Treatment options at Dr. W DermatologyAlthough age spots are not considered a medical condition, they can be unsightly and difficult to cover with cosmetics. Our trained professionals can help you enjoy beautiful, even skin with a variety of options to lighten or remove age spots. Treatments include:
- Medications can make the spots fade gradually.
- Light therapy, such as laser treatment, can destroy excess melanocytes.
- Cryotherapy may be used to eliminate excess pigment.
- Dermabrasion gently removes the surface layer, allowing new, normally pigmented skin to develop.
- Chemical peels are a great way to even out skin tone and fade age spots.