Age Spots : Sun Spots : Liver Spots : Solar Lentigines
Synopsis: 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. Pigment-producing cells in a person's skin called, 'melanocytes,' become activated to produce more pigmentation or, 'melanin,' by ultraviolet light. 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.
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:
- Sun spots
- Liver spots
The brown and flat spots are many times caused by years spent in the sun. The spots are larger than freckles, are flat, and often appear on areas of a person's body that have been exposed to the sun. Age spots are harmless, although if they bother you a dermatologist can remove them. Using sunblock or sunscreen can help to prevent additional sun damage.
Age spots may appear anywhere on a person's body as they age as well. One school of thought suggests that the spots are the result of a waste called,'lipofuscin accumulato,' or brown pigment granules representing lipid-containing residues of lysomal digestion. Lipids denoting substances that are extracted from vegetable or animal cells by non-polar or fat solvents, in other words; something that is an operational term which describes a solubility characteristic and not a chemical substance.
While the spots are believed to be harmless, the idea behind this school of thought is that they are actually signs that the cells are full of accumulated waste that is destroying cells in the person's body at a slow rate, to include the person's liver and brain cells. The natural school of thought suggests they are a surface sign of free radical intoxication of the person's body. Age spots are also known as liver spots, senile or solar lentigines, or skin spots.
Diagnosing Age Spots
A diagnosis of an age spot is made based upon the appearance of the person's skin, particularly if the person is over the age of forty and has had a great deal of sun exposure of time.
An age spot appears irregular and might be biopsied in order to confirm that it is not skin cancer.
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.
Age spots involve changes in the person's skin color, often occurring in person's who are older. The increase in color may be brought on by aging itself, exposure to the sun or other types of ultraviolet light, or other causes. Age spots are particularly common after a person reaches the age of forty, occurring in areas that have received the most exposure to the sun such as:
- Backs of the hands
The natural school of thought suggests age spots may be caused by lack of exercise, poor diet, sun exposure, ingestion of rancid oils, or poor liver function.
Treatment Options for Age Spots
Age spots do not require treatment in the majority of cases. People who have age spots can improve the appearance of their skin through the use of skin bleaching lotions or creams. Freezing, or cryotherapy, or laser treatment might be recommended to destroy age spots.
Age spots are not dangerous from a medical perspective. They are a permanent skin change that can affect the cosmetic appearance of the person's skin. For some, age spots may cause emotional distress. On occasion, age spots can make it hard to diagnose skin cancers.
You should call a health care provider if you have age spots you would like removed, or if you develop new symptoms, such as a change in the appearance of the age spot. There are a variety of forms of treatments for age spots:
- Sunscreens: The simplest form of treatment is to protect your skin from further damage and the worsening of existing age spots through the use of sunscreen. Sunscreen is important after other forms of treatment methods as well so the spots will not recur.
- Bleaching Creams, Tretinoin, and Alpha-hydroxy Acids: Topical applications prescribed by a doctor can fade smaller age spots. The treatments usually take anywhere from two months to a year, or perhaps longer.
- Cryosurgery: A dermatologic surgeon uses cryosurgery to freeze the person's skin tissue with liquid nitrogen with the goal of removing age spots or skin growths.
- Peeling: Peeling involves the use of a chemical solution which is applied and used to peel away the person's blemished skin. The person's hands and face commonly heal within one to two weeks time.
- Dermabrasion: With dermabrasion the person's skin is lightly sanded with a special instrument in order to remove the age spot. Once the person has healed, usually after a week or two, the age spot has disappeared.
- Laser Surgery: Laser surgery is a newer technique involving the use of lasers to remove age spots. A laser light is directed at the spot to remove it.
Natural Treatment Suggestions for Age Spots
A more natural means of treatment for age spots suggests that vitamin B complex plus extra pantothenic acid, or B5, 100mg. 3 times per day, is required by older persons for the proper assimilation of nutrients. Vitamin C with bioflavonoids at 3,000 to 6,000 mg. Each day in divided doses is a powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger needed for the repair of tissues. Lactobacilli bulgaricus can assist with digestion and liver regeneration. Bio-Strath acts as a tonic, while calcium at 1,500 to 2,000 mg. And magnesium at 750 to 1,000 mg. Each day can help as well.
Gervital H-3 is a skin cream that can be applied externally, while a capsule of lecithin taken with meals is needed for appropriate brain function and works well with vitamin E. Vitamins A, D, and E emulsion, 50,000 IU vitamin A, 400 IU vitamin D, 600 IU vitamin E - help with cleaning and rebuilding a person's system to prevent age spots. Useful herbs in regards to age spots include:
- Gotu kola
- Beet juice
- Radish, black
A diet that is high in protein and includes fifty-percent raw vegetables and fruits, as well as seeds, fresh grains, and nuts is recommended. Avoidance of fried foods, caffeine, processed foods, tobacco, and sugar is as well. Exposure to the sun is something a person should limit.
Preventing Age Spots
To prevent age spots it is important to protect your skin from the sun. There are various precautions you can pursue, such as:
- Use sunscreen in the winter too
- Use sunglasses to protect your eyes
- Try to avoid sun exposure at midday, when sunlight is most intense
- Use high quality sunscreens, preferably with SPF ratings of at least 30
- Apply sunscreen at least a half hour before exposure, and re-apply frequently
- Wear protective clothing such as hats, long-sleeved shirts, long skirts, or pants
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.
Thomas C. Weiss is a researcher and editor for Disabled World. Thomas attended college and university courses earning a Masters, Bachelors and two Associate degrees, as well as pursing Disability Studies. As a Nursing Assistant Thomas has assisted people from a variety of racial, religious, gender, class, and age groups by providing care for people with all forms of disabilities from Multiple Sclerosis to Parkinson's; para and quadriplegia to Spina Bifida.
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Disabled World is an independent disability community founded in 2004 to provide disability news and information to people with disabilities, seniors, their family and/or carers. See our homepage for informative reviews, exclusive stories and how-tos. You can connect with us on social media such as X.com and our Facebook page. Disabled World provides general information only. The materials presented are never meant to substitute for qualified professional medical care, nor should they be construed as such. Funding is derived from advertisements or referral programs. Any 3rd party offering or advertising does not constitute an endorsement.
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Cite This Page (APA): Thomas C. Weiss. (2010, December 8). Age Spots : Sun Spots : Liver Spots : Solar Lentigines. Disabled World. Retrieved October 4, 2023 from www.disabled-world.com/health/dermatology/skin/sun-spots.php
Disabled World is an independent disability community founded in 2004 to provide disability news and information to people with disabilities, seniors, their family and/or carers. See our homepage for informative reviews, exclusive stories and how-tos. You can connect with us on social media such as X.com and our Facebook page.
Disabled World provides general information only. The materials presented are never meant to substitute for qualified professional medical care, nor should they be construed as such. Funding is derived from advertisements or referral programs. Any 3rd party offering or advertising does not constitute an endorsement.