Age spots: What Are They And How To Prevent Them

Wednesday September 13, 2017 at 12:37pm

What are they?  

Age spots are flat, brown, gray, or black spots on the skin. They usually occur on sun-exposed areas of the skin. Age spots are also called liver spots, senile lentigo, solar lentigines, or sun spots. Age spots are the result of an excess production of melanin, or skin pigment. Doctors don’t always know why age spots develop. Skin aging, sun exposure, or other forms of ultraviolet (UV) light exposure, such as tanning beds, are all possible causes. You’re most likely to develop age spots on the areas of your skin that receive the most sun exposure, including your face, the back of your hands, your shoulders, your upper back and your forearms.

How to prevent age spots? 

Since these brown blotches are caused by the sun’s UV rays, limiting sun exposure is an important first step in the battle against age spots. Avoid the sun as much as possible during peak hours (10 AM to 4 PM during spring, summer, and fall or 10 AM to 2 PM during winter), when the ultraviolet radiation is the strongest.

Even if you already have age spots, sunscreen keeps existing ones from darkening and helps prevent more from popping up, says Kunin. Buy a broad-spectrum sunblock (which protects you from both the UVA and UVB rays of the sun) with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 (Such as This Works Leg Protector SPF30). Apply it to exposed skin 10 to 15 minutes before you go outside, says C. Ralph Daniel III, MD. Tests show that SPF 30 sunblock protects the skin against about 93% of the sun’s UV rays, he says.

Top Tip: Use lemon

Cut a few lemon slices and place them directly onto your age spots for 10 to 15 minutes once a day, suggests Kunin. “The acid in the fresh lemon juice helps lighten the age spots in some cases.” It won’t happen overnight, though. Kunin says that you’ll notice a difference in 6 to 12 weeks. Watch carefully. Overuse may cause the upper layer of skin to peel.  


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