Age spots also known as liver spots and solar lentigines — are small dark patches on your skin. They differ in size and often appear on the face, shoulders, hands, and arms, areas that are mostly exposed to the sun.
Age spots are well-known in adults older than 50. But younger people can have them too, particularly if they spend a lot of time in the sun.
Age spots appear like cancerous growths. But true age spots are harmless and don’t require treatment. For cosmetic reasons, age spots can be treated with skin-bleaching products or removed.
You can help prevent age spots by constantly using sunscreen and staying out of the sun.
Age spots affect people of all skin types, but they’re more common in those with light skin. Age spots:
Are usually tan, brown or black
Are flat, oval areas of high pigmentation
Happens on skin that has had the most sun exposure for several years, such as the backs of hands, tops of feet, shoulders face, and upper back
Age spots differs from freckle size to about a 1/2 inch (13 millimeters) across and can group together, making them more visible.
When to see a doctor
Age spots are normally harmless and don’t require medical attention. Have your doctor check the spots that are dark or have changed in appearance. These changes can be signs of melanoma, a severe form of skin cancer.
It’s best to have any new skin changes examined by a doctor, particularly if a spot:
Is darkly pigmented
Has an irregular shape
Is rapidly increasing in size
Has an unusual combination of colors
Comes with itching, redness, tenderness or bleeding
Age spots are resulted by overactive pigment cells. Ultraviolet (UV) light accelerates the production of melanin. On the parts of skin that have had years of constant and prolonged sun exposure, age spots occur when melanin becomes “clumped” or is produced in increased concentrations.
Making use of commercial tanning lamps and tanning beds can also add to the development of age spots.
Anyone can experience age spots, but you may be more prone to develop the condition if you:
Have a history of frequent or intense sun exposure or sunburn
Have red hair and light skin
To help prevent age and new spots after treatment, follow these tips for limiting your sun exposure:
Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m: Because the rays of the sun are mostly intense by this time, try to schedule outdoor activities for other times of the day.
Use sunscreen: 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that provides protection from both UVA and UVB light. Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 minutes. Apply sunscreen generally, and reapply every two hours especially if you’re swimming or perspiring.
Cover up: For protection from the sun, use tightly woven clothing that covers your arms and legs and a broad-brimmed hat, which gives more protection than does a baseball cap or golf visor.
Opt wearing clothing designed to give sun protection. Look for clothes labeled with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 40 to 50 to get the perfect protection.
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