As we age, our skin starts to feel the effects of years spent in the sun and being exposed to the elements. No matter how well you take care of it, skin naturally starts to change over time. A common condition that comes with age is known as age spots. These harmless spots can be treated by your trusted Greeley dermatologist. Here is everything you need to know about age spots.
What are Age Spots?
Like the name implies, age spots are spots that occur on the skin with age. They tend to be slightly darker than the skin, such as tan, brown, or black, and appear in areas that are frequently being exposed to the sun, such as the face, hands, and shoulders. Age spots have the same texture as the rest of the skin and can be as small as a freckle to about half an inch in diameter. Age spots don’t hurt and aren’t harmful.
What Causes Age Spots?
Age spots are caused by excess or overactive melanin, the chemical that creates skin pigment. While there is no set answer as to why age spots develop, many doctors believe they are caused by exposure to sun and UV light paired with aging skin. Age spots affect everyone, regardless of gender or race. However, people with fair skin or who frequently use tanning beds or are exposed to the sun are at higher risk. Age spots typically don’t start to appear until after age 40.
How Can Age Spots be Treated?
Although age spots aren’t linked to any other health conditions, some people want to treat them for cosmetic reasons. A doctor can diagnose age spots by examining the skin. If the spots seem to be growing or changing color quickly or have an irregular outline, it could be a more dangerous skin condition instead of an age spot. If this is the case, a dermatologist will likely take a biopsy of the skin to test it for other conditions.
There are two basic types of treatments for age spots: creams or procedures. Creams are topical applications that can be done at home or by a doctor or aesthetician. Most skin lightening creams contain steroids and are available either with or without a prescription. In order to be effective, creams need to be applied every day and will gradually lighten age spots. However, if you stop using a skin lightening cream, there is a chance the age spots can come back.
Procedures, such as chemical peels and laser therapy, tend to be more effective and get faster results, but they also carry more risk and can be more expensive. Laser therapy and cryotherapy use lasers and freezing methods, respectively, to remove dark spots of skin. One of the most effective treatments is Eskata, which is a highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide topical solution applied by a dermatologist. Unlike other treatment options, Eskata doesn’t require freezing or cutting. Many patients see results after the first application, while other people require a few applications before they see age spots start to lighten.
Can Age Spots Be Prevented?
Because a definite cause of age spots isn’t known, prevention can’t be guaranteed. However, taking care of your skin from an early age can possibly help prevent age spots from occurring. Similarly, wearing sunscreen every day and staying out of the sun in the middle of the day to limit the impact of harmful UV rays can also prevent age spots. Taking care of your skin from an early age and limiting sun exposure creates healthier skin for years to come.
Age spots aren’t dangerous and naturally occur in many people with age. If you are concerned about your age spots, visit your dermatologist for personalized treatment options. A trusted Greeley dermatologist can help create healthy skin at any age.