Age spots or brown spots are a common dermatological issue that mature adults often struggle with. Although it was believed that age is the root of their occurrence (hence their name), some even blaming an associated hepatic pathology, more and more researchers support the idea that prolonged exposure to the sun is the true cause of hyperpigmentation.
Age spots characteristics
Age spots are noticeably darker colored than the rest of the skin and located in areas that are usually exposed to sunlight. The face, hands, upper back, and neck are most commonly affected. Their size ranges from 0.07 to 1.18 inches in diameter, they have irregular contours and they don’t like loneliness because chances are that you will deal with more than one of these ‘babies’.
Age spots causes
Age spots are the result of quantitative alterations in the production of melanin – the pigment that plays a role in protection against ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Unprotected exposure to the sun or other UV sources acts as a trigger stimulant for melanin release by melanocytes. Even if age seemed to be the cause of this issue, today it is considered that the cumulative role of radiation and the degree of damage to the skin is the trigger factor for these lesions.
Tanning, whether natural or artificial, volunteer or involuntary, can lead to age spots. Another theory about the pigmentation mechanism suggests that there is a genetic predisposition for melanocytes to be distorted by UV radiation when they irreversibly lose their functionality.
How to prevent age spots?
Age spots can be prevented by following some simple sun exposure rules:
- Avoiding sun exposure at midday (in warm seasons);
- Using special creams with a high protective factor;
- Wearing sun hats for extra skin protection;
- Avoiding clothing that exposes your skin to sunlight.
How to banish age spots?
Cryotherapy is the most commonly used method of treating age spots. The procedure consists in applying a liquid nitrogen spray to the affected areas, freezing the melanocytes and destroying the pigmented areas, thus stimulating tissue regeneration. Several sessions are required for an optimal outcome.
Hydroquinone skin bleaching creams can also banish age spots. The areas on which these products are applied become lighter, but keep in mind that the result is temporary, and it’s highly recommended to talk to your doctor before using them.
Laser therapy solves the age spots problem in one or more sessions.
Microdermabrasion consists in removing the superficial skin layers for the purpose of regeneration. Usually, more treatment sessions are required.
Dermabrasion stimulates the epidermis recovery by removing, over several sessions, its superficial layers – those that are affected by pigmentation.
Intense pulse light (IPL) is a modern method of removing age spots, carried out in multiple sessions.
Chemical peels (e.g., phenols) are used to necrose the affected layers and stimulate skin regeneration.
Applying kojic acid inhibits the production of melanin and banishes age spots.
As you can see, age spots are not your biggest enemy after all. There are plenty of ways to prevent them, as well as numerous methods to get rid of them. So, if you were scared that you will end up with these annoying spots on your skin, or if you are already struggling with them, worry not! There are a bunch of great solutions you can try.