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Age Spots, Also Known as Sun Spots

Outline: Age spot are a reference to a number of different bumps and spots that can appear on the skin as people age.

Main Digest

The term, 'age spot,' is one people often use in reference to a number of different bumps and spots that can appear on a person's skin as they age.

Some of these bumps and spots are harmless, while others are indicators of skin cancer. The lesions are tan, brown, or dark-brown spots that are flat and appear on skin that has been exposed to the sun. As a person ages, the spots appear most often on the backs of the person's hands, neck, face, chest, and forearms.

Pigment-producing cells in a person's skin called, 'melanocytes,' become activated to produce more pigmentation or, 'melanin,' by ultraviolet light. Although the spots themselves are not cancerous, a person might be at risk of skin cancer if they have them.

Age spots are also known as:

Causes of Age Spots

Age spots tend to increase with increased sun exposure and age. The spots are more common in persons who burn easily and freckle. Awareness of the amount of sun a person has been exposed to is important in relation to development of age spots because increased sun exposure presents a higher risk of skin cancer.

The majority of age spots develop on skin that has been badly damaged by ultraviolet light from the sun. Age spots also appear on the skin of people who make use of sun lamps and tanning beds, which emit ultraviolet rays. Seborrheic keratosis also causes age spots, although the cause remains unknown. Studies have suggested that exposure to the sun also plays a role with it as well. Age spots differ in size from around the size of a tiny pea to about the size of a dime. The spots are fairly round and have irregular borders.

Treatment Options for Age Spots

The best form of treatment for age spots is actually prevention. The best way to prevent age spots is to avoid exposure to the sun and use sunscreen on a regular basis while you are in the sun. People often do not have age spots on their inner thighs because they do not expose them to the sun as often as they do their hands or forearms for example. For people who already have age spots, there are various forms of treatment options available.

There are age spots that are not harmless; at times what seems to be an age spot is actually a melanoma or another type of skin cancer. Early detection and proper treatment finds skin cancer with a high cure rate, fortunately. When a melanoma spreads it has the potential to cause death. Due to this fact, dermatologists recommend that everyone visit a dermatologist for an examination of their skin. There are some questions people should ask their dermatologist, to include:

May I use a non-prescription product to treat age spots

If a person's skin has a fair amount of sun damage, use of one of these products might not be the best choice. Doing so may actually delay a diagnosis of skin cancer.

How often should I visit for an examination of my skin

The need to visit a dermatologist for a skin examination depends on a number of factors, such as the amount of damage to the person's skin.

If a dermatologist approves of the use of a non-prescription product, it is important to remember the following:

Apply sunscreen each day to all of your skin that is not covered by clothes. The results of treatment for age spots is not something you will see if your skin is not protected from ultraviolet rays. Remember that tanning beds, sunlight, and sunlamps all produce ultraviolet rays.

Sunscreen also assists in the prevention of further damage to your skin. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that people use a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of thirty or greater and broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection. It is important to apply sunscreen twenty minutes prior to going outside and into sun-exposed areas. When you are in sunlight, be sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours.

Take the time to examine the list of ingredients in any fade cream or similar product. Some of these fade creams and bleaching treatments are available in non-prescription strengths, over-the-counter. The products commonly contain hydroquinone. Prescription-strength products containing hydroquinone are many times more effective than ones that are available over-the-counter.

Additional products that can assist with fading age spots may be referred to as, 'lighteners,' 'whiteners,' or, 'skin brighteners.' The products commonly contain licorice, soy, or kojic acid. As with products that contain hydroquinone, prescription-strength versions are often more effective than over-the-counter ones.

It is also important to remember that products from unknown sources or countries without regulations might contain an inaccurate list of ingredients. These products could contain things such as high-potency steroids or mercury. In America, these products are illegal, yet they still find their way in. Use of a product containing high-potency steroids has the potential to cause acne, stretch marks, as well as paper-thin skin. Other products considered to be illegal in America may contain far higher levels of hydroquinone than allowed in the United States. Higher levels of hydroquinone may irritate a person's skin and cause light-colored halos that are visible on the skin that has been treated.

Some people feel the results they see from non-prescription products do not meet their expectations. A dermatologist can offer treatments for age spots that include chemical peels, cryosurgery, bleaching treatments, laser skin resurfacing, dermabrasion, or microdermabrasion.

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Cite: Journal: Disabled World. Language: English. Author: Disabled World. Electronic Publication Date: 2010/12/08. Last Revised Date: 2010/12/08. Reference Title: "Age Spots, Also Known as Sun Spots", Source: Age Spots, Also Known as Sun Spots. Abstract: Age spot are a reference to a number of different bumps and spots that can appear on the skin as people age. Retrieved 2019-11-19, from - Reference Category Number: DW#140-6390.
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