What are Age Spots?
Also called liver spots, age spots are flat, gray, brown or black spots that vary in size and can appear on various parts of the body including the hands, shoulders, back arms and face (the areas most exposed to the sun).
Age spots are a common result of ageing and mostly occur in individuals older the 40 years of age, but can also affect younger people too. People with fair complexion tend to be affected by age spots more than those individuals with darker skin.
What Causes Age Spots?
We all have Melanin in our skin - the dark pigment that gives our skin its normal color. When we tan extra melanin is produced to protect the deeper layers of our skin. Unfortunately when we age extra melanin becomes "clumped" or is produced in higher concentrations than normal, leading to the creation of age spots.
Using a tanning bed, extra exposure to the sun and genetic factors can all contribute to the appearance of age spots. Although they are normally harmless, your doctor should evaluate spots that are dark or have changed appearance because these can be signs of melanoma, a serious form of skin cancer.
Diagnosing Age Spots
Age spots range in size - from freckle-size to more than a centimeter across. Age spots can also be accompanied by deep wrinkles, dry skin, delicate red veins on your cheeks, nose and ears or thinner, more translucent-looking skin.
There are various types of pimples and these include:
- Whiteheads (pimples that remain under the surface of the skin)
- Blackheads (pimples that rise to the surface of the skin and are black in color)
- Papules (small, pink bumps that may be tender)
- Pustules (pimples that are red at the bottom and have pus on top)
- Nodules (large, painful pimples that are deep within the skin)
- Cysts (deep, pus-filled, painful pimples that cause scars)
Help for people with Age Spots
Many herbal and homeopathic remedies have been formulated with specific ingredients to encourage skin health at a cellular level. Aloe ferox, Glycorrhiza glabra and Vitamin E oil have been used as natural skin treatments to keep skin nourished and moisturized, ensuring healthy, supple hydrated skin. Galium aparine and Bulbinella frutescens are also regarded as highly effective and gentle remedies for eczema and skin irritation.
Tips to prevent age spots:
- Minimize your sun exposure! If you must be in the sun, use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 that blocks both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.
- The sun's rays are most damaging from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m so reduce the time you spend outdoors during these hours.
- Wear protective clothing. Long-sleeved shirts, long pants and wide-brimmed hats are good choices to protect delicate skin. Also, tightly woven fabrics are better than loosely woven fabrics – always research the pros and cons of different fabrics for sun protection.
- Apply sunscreen liberally 30 minutes before going outdoors so that your skin has time to absorb the sunscreen and always reapply after swimming – and about every hour for preventative measures.