What are Age Spots?
Age spots are gray, brown or black spots on the skin. They commonly appear on skin that's frequently exposed to the sun, such as the face, hands, shoulders and arms. Age spot are also called liver spots or solar lentigines and often vary in size. They are prevalent in people older than 40, although younger individuals can also be affected.
Are age spots harmful? True age spots are relatively harmless and don't require treatment, but may dampen the glow of your skin. But, by vamping up skin care products with anti-aging creams and skin-bleaching products you can lessen the appearance of brown spots on your skin. And removing age spots can be done with laser skin rejuvenation and dermabrasion.
Read on more to find out the signs and symptoms of age spots and what causes age spots.
Signs and symptoms
Age spots are flat and oval in appearance and either brown, gray or black in color. They range in size from being a freckle-size to almost a centimeter wide. Generally, these increased spots of pigmentation affect fair-skinned individuals but can also appear in people with darker complexions. Frequently, age spots are associated with other signs of sun damage, such as:
- Heavy wrinkles
- Dry, rough skin
- Appearance of fine red veins on your cheeks, nose and ears
- Thin, translucent-looking skin
You're more likely to develop age spots and areas of increased pigmentation, if you're fair-skinned and you spend a lot of time under the sun. Areas repeatedly exposed to the sun, like the back of the hands and face, are often affected by age spots. Age spots often appear in clusters, and grow in size, giving the skin a discolored and speckled look.
Why do I get age spots?
Age spots normally form when the melanin (the dark pigment in the skin that gives it its natural color) becomes clumped or is produced in abnormally high concentration. Age spots commonly appear after years of repeated sun exposure. This is because the ultraviolet (UV) light increases the production of melanin in the skin. But, other than sun exposure other factors can cause age spots. These causes include:
- Aging: As you age, the melanin you produce increases, forming age spots
- Genetics: The skin type and complexion you're born with affects whether or not you'll develop age spots. People with light complexions are more susceptible
- Antibiotics: Such as tetracycline can increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun
- Diet: Foods containing the chemical psoralens, including parsley, lime and parsnips increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun
When should you seek medical advice? Read the article Treatment and Prevention Tips for Age spots to find out when to see a doctor and how to treat age spots.