Skin Pigmentation with Aging

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You will often find age spots on the skin as you get older. They are caused by an increase in melanin in the skin. They are usually painless and of no threat to your health. Whilst age spots are also known as liver spots, they are not related to the liver.

What causes age spots?

There are a number of factors which lead to the increased pigmentation which causes age spots:

  • The older you are the more likely you are to get age spots. They usually appear after the age of 40 as the skin is less able to re-grow.
  • Exposing you skin to the sun will make it more likely that you will get age spots. This includes the use of tanning beds and sunlamps.
  • It is thought that mutations in some genes are involved in the development of age spots and that this can be caused by sun exposure.
  • Medicines including antibiotics and diuretics can increase the sensitivity of the skin to sun.

How to prevent age spots

There are a number of things you can do which can help reduce the risk of age spots. Wearing sun lotion, avoiding exposure to the sun and wearing protective clothing such as hats and sunglasses can all help.

How to diagnose age spots

If you are over 40 and you have previously had a lot of sun exposure then you are likely to have developed age spots. Your doctor should look for any age spots and examine them to check that they are not cancerous. If you notice any changes in the marks on your skin then you should tell your doctor.

Removal of age spots

No treatment is usually needed for age spots as they are almost always harmless. However, there are treatments available if you want to reduce their appearance.

There are many anti-aging skin care products which you can use to help lighten the appearance of age spots. These creams may contain vitamin C which can help the skin to re-grow. Some creams contain glycolic acid and it is thought this increases the rate of growth of the skin. This is why it can help to achieve ‘younger looking skin’.

Cold therapy, or cryotherapy, can be used to treat age spots. In this method the skin is frozen by spraying on liquid nitrogen. Two to three weeks later the skin peels off leaving fresh skin underneath. This method of treatment works well but can cause pinkness and scarring.

Laser treatment is becoming a much more popular choice for removing age spots. It is more expensive than cryotherapy but less likely to cause any unwanted side effects. Laser treatment removes the age spots by targeting the brown pigmentation in the skin. The most common side effects are swelling and sensitivity at the site, but these usually last only a couple of days.

Prevention methods that are discussed above should still be followed even if you choose to use any of these treatments.

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