Liver spots, also known as age spots- are technically called solar lentigines or sun spots. And yes there are ways to get rid of age spots but you need to know how to keep them from coming back. You might also be wondering what is the best way to get rid of age spots. I’ll cover all of this plus let you know exactly what these annoying blotches of unwanted color are. They are a form of skin discoloration that appears as rounded, brown or black spots that can show up on your face, hands and neck.
Age Spots really aren’t due to age!
These skin discolorations typically appear in older people however; they are not caused by age. Age spots typically appear only on areas of the skin that have had prolonged ultraviolet light exposure over many years, for example; on the face or back of the hands. They also appear more often in people who frequent tanning beds.
The pigment in your skin’s upper layer known as the epidermis, is produced by melanin. Ultraviolet light accelerates melanin production causing the skin to tan or burn when exposed to the sun. Any form of skin discoloration but especially those pesky age spots occur in places where melanin production is concentrated on the skin. Besides UV exposure, just getting older can increase melanin production.
What Exactly Causes Age Spots?
Age spots cause a specific type of skin discoloration- different from, say, melasma. Age spots occur when the top surface layer of skin expands with more pigment and develops what looks like a large freckle. One may appear by itself, or a few may be clustered together. Despite what most people think, very few people have a hereditary predisposition to age spots.
Age spots often develop at an early age, even in childhood, although they are more common when people age, especially in those who have spent to much time in the sun and/or under a tanning bed. Age spots do not lead to cancer nor are they cancerous. Nonetheless, skin that has been exposed to the sun may be accompanied by pre-cancerous scaly, red elevations known as actinic keratoses. Dark spots can be cancerous and may appear to be simply lentigines. A Dermatolgist should evaluate any “suspicious” spots you think you have.
Who Is at Risk for Age Spots?
People of any age, sex, or race can develop age spots as the most common type of skin discoloration. However, age spots are more common in people with certain risk factors as follows. Having a history of frequent sun exposure, being a person with fair skin, having a history of frequent tanning bed use, and just plain being a person over the age of 40.
Prevention of Age Spots
You can’t always prevent age spots. However, you can reduce your chances of getting them by doing the following:
Wear protective clothing such as hats, pants, and long-sleeved shirts. These help protect your skin from UV rays. For the best protection, wear UV-blocking clothes with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of at least 40 or 50.
Wear sunscreen every day. It should have a sun protection factor (SPF) rating of at least 15 and contain both UVA and UVB protection. Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense. Just because you clean up your skin with medical procedures and topicals doesn’t mean that your spots can’t come right back-so take precautions.
Are Age Spots a “medical problem?”
Age spots do not cause any health problems nor portend any cancer dangers . Treatment isn’t necessary on any type of benign skin discoloration such as this. However, some people want to remove skin discoloration because it makes them “feel older.” Age spots may be embarrassing for some people and for others, it’s an esthetic issue. Now I’ll talk about all sorts of ways to rid yourself of these skin discoloration spots next. All 11!
Medically- based ways to get rid of Age Spots
Laser treatment – Laser and intense pulsed light therapies destroy melanin-producing cells (melanocytes) without damaging the skin’s surface. Treatments with a laser such as Fraxel ® or intense pulsed light (IPL) typically require several sessions.
Chemical peels- A chemical peel involves applying an acid, which burns the outer layer of your skin, which generally is where the skin discoloration lies. As your skin peels, new skin forms to take its place. Several treatments may be necessary before you notice any results. Temporary irritation is likely, and there’s a slight risk of discoloration.
Dermabrasion- This procedure consists of sanding down the surface layer of your skin with a rapidly rotating brush. This procedure removes the skin surface, and a new layer of skin grows in its place. Temporary redness and scab formation can result from this treatment. Certain types of acne scars respond to this but in my opinion, this procedure is a bit antiquated, what with all the nice lasers we have.
Cryosurgery – This procedure involves applying liquid nitrogen or another freezing agent to the age spots to destroy the extra pigment. Freezing is typically used on a single age spot or a small grouping of age spots. The treatment may temporarily irritate the skin and poses a slight risk of permanent scarring or discoloration. Be careful with this one or you’ll have white spots instead of dark spots!
Prescription Medication- Prescription bleaching creams contain the ingredient hydroquinone, which is a known carcinogen. It’s prescribed, along with a retinoid (such as Retin-A) and a mild steroid. This treatment may result in ongoing itching, redness, burning or dryness. Well, I think you know how I feel about using a topical carcinogen and having some chronic skin irritation but I’m here to inform.
Decreasing Age Spots more naturally:
Age spots can be treated in various ways which are more natural than the hydroquine concoction described above. Alpha and beta hydroxy acids such as salicylic acid and glycolic acid will gradually help fade age spots. The Lifeline proplus growth factor serums will also help fade age spots.
Other safe and “slow” (so no irritation) formulations include serums (such as our Moorspa radiance serum) which contain niacinamide. Niacinamide will assist in the reduction of uneven pigmentation by slowing down the transfer of melanin to your skin’s epidermis. It also protects the skin from the infrared heat from the sun and to some extent- the damaging effect of UV exposures. (However this does not substitute for sunblock). Adding a vitamin C mask to your regimen will also slowly help fade spots and irregular pigmentation.
Natural remedies for age spots
If you are a do-it-your-selfer here are some recipes for you to try. They will work but will take longer than the remedies above. However if you are patient, here you go!
Mix two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar with one teaspoon of orange juice. Apply on a cotton pad and bandage it to the area.
Apply organic buttermilk to the spots. The lactic acid in buttermilk helps to lighten the skin.
Every night mix around 1/3 cup of chickpeas and make a paste by adding a little water. Leave it on until it completely dries, and then wash it off.
The Chinese herb, gotu kola, is said anecdotally to help clear up age spots. Add 1/8 teaspoon of the powdered herb to herbal tea, or you can just add it to hot water, mixing it with 1/8 teaspoon of ginseng and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
Apply fresh lemon juice to the spots twice daily.
So there you go- and if you find one of these remedies that works best for you please comment!
Can’t decide? Want the best way to get rid of Age Spots?
Oftentimes when I do these articles with a myriad of choices, I get messages asking me what’s the best way or ways to get rid of age spots or “whatever” and I want to head those questions off at the pass.
The best way would be to have IPL laser treatments. Then- inbetween treatments (when your skin isn’t peeling), each morning; rub down down with lemon followed by the radiance serum and at night use a coat of glycolic lotion followed by the radiance serum. And don’t forget your sunblock!