Age spots are flat brown, gray, or black spots on the skin. Age spots are marks that commonly appear on the skin after prolonged sun exposure. They are harmless, but some people wish to remove them for cosmetic reasons.
Other names for age spots include solar lentigines and liver spots, though they have no connection to the liver. These marks are flat and darker than the surrounding skin. They can be tan, brown, or black, and they may resemble freckles.
What Causes Age Spots?
Age spots are the result of excess production of melanin, or skin pigment. Doctors don’t always know why age spots develop. Skin aging, sun exposure, or other forms of ultraviolet (UV) light exposure, such as tanning beds, are all possible causes. You’re most likely to develop age spots on the areas of your skin that receive the most sun exposure, including:
- your face
- the back of your hands
- your shoulders
- your upper back
- your forearms
Indications of Age Spots
- Age spots usually appear in areas of skin that are commonly exposed to the sun, including the:
- backs of the hands
- tops of the feet
- Age spots can develop singly or in clusters. They vary in size and may range from 0.2–2.0 centimeters in diameter.
Who is more likely to have Age Spots?
- People of any age, sex, or race can develop age spots. However, age spots are more common in people with certain risk factors. These include:
- being older than 40 years old
- having fair skin
- having a history of frequent sun exposure
- having a history of frequent tanning bed use
Treatment Options for Age Spots
The Age Spots can be treated by just following a regular routine of applying regular sunscreen or can be permanently cured by opting for laser surgery. It completely depends upon the severity of the age spots a person has.
- A daily skincare routine that incorporates products that are clinically and dermatologically proven to address age spots can be an effective solution. Being non-invasive, dermo-cosmetic products can be used year-round. They can also extend the results of a dermatological treatment such as a chemical peel or laser therapy.
- Dermatological treatments such as chemical peels and laser therapy can help to reduce age spots:
- Chemical peels involve applying a chemical solution (such as an AHA) to the face, neck, and hands to exfoliate skin (remove dead skin cells), stimulate the growth of new skin cells and reveal new skin. Read more about chemical peels in What are chemical peels and how do they work?
- Laser therapy has a similar effect but tends to be more precise as the dermatologist has more control over the intensity of the treatment. Laser treatments involve ‘zapping’ the affected areas with high-energy light. The mildest treatments work on the skin’s epidermis (surface layer), while more intense treatments can penetrate the deepest layers of the skin. Find out more in Laser therapy: how should I care for my skin after treatment?
- Dermatologists may also prescribe and/or use hydroquinone which is still regarded as one of the most effective topical agents for reducing hyperpigmentation. It can, however, only be used for limited periods of time because, like other forms of chemical peel and laser treatment, it can irritate skin and actually cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, especially in people with darker skin.