As you age, certain changes to your skin are almost inevitable, such as wrinkles and age spots. Although you cannot completely avoid the natural aging process, there are certain actions you can take to prevent and mitigate the problem. By recognizing what causes age spots, you can reduce your risk and find the right product to reduce the appearance of dark spots on your skin.
What are Age Spots?
Age spots are small to medium brown spots that appear on the skin, primarily the face and hands, as you age. They are often referred to as liver spots. They are caused by UV damage to the melanin production of the skin cells, which causes certain skin cells to appear darker than others. Age spots can range in size between miniscule to more than a 1/2 an inch, and will appear as tan, brown or black in color. They can also group together, which creates a more significant appearance. They are typically harmless and benign, making them mostly a cosmetic problem. However, if an age spot grows or changes rapidly, then you should get it checked out by a dermatologist to ensure it is not cancerous.
How Do Age Spots Develop?
Age spots develop due to excess UV exposure, either from the sun or tanning beds. They appear in the areas that have been most exposed to the sun, including the face, hands, and shoulders. Melanin is the pigment in skin cells that provides it with its color. UV light accelerates the production of melanin, which is what leads to tanning. However, the UV rays also damage the skin cells. Over time, this damage alters the production of melanin in the skin cell, causing high concentration of melanin in a particular area, which creates the age spots. Age spots are more common in those with pale skin, but those with a darker skin pigment can also develop age spots, as well.
How to Treat Age Spots?
The best way to treat age spots is prevention, which includes wearing sunscreen whenever you are in the sun, avoiding tanning beds and other excess exposure to UV rays. If you already have developed age spots, then you can treat them with a skin lightening cream. When choosing skin lightening creams, avoid dangerous and potentially toxic ingredients such as kojic acid and hydroquinone. Instead, choose all natural ingredients, such as licorice root extract and vitamin C, which will not only lighten the skin, but also keep it healthy. If the age spots do not respond to treatment, then you can discuss more invasive procedures, such as laser therapy or dermabrasion, with your doctor.
You can take precautions when you are young to avoid getting age spots as you age. Once you do begin to develop some unsightly age spots, you can start treatment to reduce their appearance. Just remember that it takes time for the skin to heal and return to normal once you have begun treatment.
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