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Age Spots

What are Age Spots?

Age-spotsAge spots — also called liver spots and solar lentigines — are flat tan, brown or black spots. They vary in size and usually appear on the face, hands, shoulders and arms — areas most exposed to the sun.

Age spots are very common in adults older than age 50. But, younger people can get them too, especially if they spend a lot of time in the sun.

Although age spots can look like cancerous growths, true age spots are harmless and don’t need treatment. For cosmetic reasons, age spots can be lightened with skin-bleaching products or removed. However, preventing age spots — by avoiding the sun and using sunscreen — may be the easiest way to maintain your skin’s youthful appearance.

Treating Age Spots

There are several available treatment options targeted at lightening or removing age spots. Some of the available treatment options include:

  • Laser Therapy:
    Laser therapy destroys melanin-producing cells (melanocytes) without damaging the skin’s surface. It is these extra melanocytes that create the dark pigment. Laser therapy treatment will not damage the skin’s surface and has few side effects.  Laser therapy generally requires several sessions and after treatment, age spots fade gradually.
  • Freezing (cryotherapy):
    This procedure involves applying, liquid nitrogen to the age spots to destroy extra pigment. As it heals, the skin will appear lighter. . Cryotherapy poses a slight risk of permanent scarring or discoloration.
  • Medications:
    Prescription bleaching creams (hydroquinone) used alone or with retinoids (tretinoin) and a mild steroid may gradually fade the spots over several months. Use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 is strongly advised if you use medication treatments
  • Chemical Peels:
    A chemical peel involves applying an acid, which burns the outer layer of your skin, to the age spots. As your skin peels, new skin forms to take its place. Several treatments may be necessary before you notice any results.