by Joyce M. Palmer
Age spots are the flat little brown spots that make up cannot hide. Age spots are common on the face, neck, chest, shoulders, back, lower legs, tops of feet, arms and hands which are sun exposed. Age spots can vary in color from brown, tan to blackish.
Exposing unprotected skin to UV light that is natural or un-natural, causes an over production of the skin pigment known as melanin. This over production causes age spots to appear. This exposing of unprotected skin is known as “getting a tan”.
“Although some people think that a tan gives them a ‘healthy’ glow, any tan is a sign of skin damage,” says Sharon Miller, M.S.E.E., a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) scientist and international expert on UV radiation and tanning.
“A tan is the skin’s reaction to exposure to UV rays,” says Miller. “Recognizing exposure to the rays as an ‘insult,’ the skin acts in self-defense by producing more melanin, a pigment that darkens the skin. Over time, this damage will lead to prematurely aged skin and, in some cases, skin cancer.” Also, “the risk of melanoma of the skin increases by 75 percent when tanning bed use started before age 35”. http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm186687.htm
There is no question that age spots and pre-mature skin ageing (wrinkles) making you look older and worn out. If this has been on your mind, you might want consider treatments that can lighten and fade brown spots. Results will improve the texture and quality of your skin. And liking the way you look always makes you feel a whole lot better about yourself!
Before starting treatments to remove age spots, it is good idea to have your doctor examine your skin to determine whether the brown pigmentation is true age spots. If there are any concerns, a referral to a dermatologist may be necessary. True age spots are not dangerous and can be easily treated.
The pigment melanin is found at the base of the epidermis, the outer most layer of the skin. Since the over production of melanin causes age spots to form, treatments must be able to penetrate deep enough to level off the melanin production while leaving the surrounding skin undamaged. By reducing the melanin production, the new skin cells will have a normal skin tone. The top treatments for reducing or fading age spots are:
Hydroquinone: The gold standard for treating age spots and brown pigmentation is hydroquinone. The down side about hydroquinone is that it is not recommended for long term use. Once you stop using hydroquinone, the age spots may return if not maintained. Kojic acid, arbutin, liquorice and vitamin C are good options but are less effective, however they can be used long term. Combinations of either kojic acid or arbutin with vitamin C are good treatments for age spot prevention and maintaining your skins health. Daily Sunscreen is a must!
Retinol or topical vitamin A: Retinols were first approved in 1971 by the FDA to treat acne and was the later approved by the FDA to treat wrinkles. Retinols work by increasing the production of new collagen. Retinols stimulate new blood vessels in the skin; increases cell turnover, fades age spots, and reduces precancerous skin spots called actinic keratosis. Retinols can be used long term, but it does take time for the skin to be acclimatized to usage and retinols make the skin sun sensitive. Sunscreen must be part of your skin care regime when using any retinol or vitamin A for skin repair and anti-ageing.
Laser: Laser treatments destroy the cells that produce melanin without damaging the skin’s surface. This results in a more even complexion that is uniform in color. Laser treatments typically require more than one session. After treatment, age spots may appear darker but they will gradually slough off over 10 to 14 days. Laser treatments have few side effects and the results can be permanent. Daily sunscreen is a must and retinols are recommended for maintaining your skins new appearance.
Chemical Peels: This is another option for treating age spots. Glycolic peels are good treatment but multiple on going peels may be needed to see results. Combining chemical peels with treatment creams are suggested. Sun protection is always a must!
Want to improve the look of your décolleté? Any treatment done for the face, will work on the neck, chest, arms, back and hands. However, skin in these areas is thinner and more delicate. All treatment levels must be adjusted to accommodate the delicate nature of the skin. Gentle and slow is the way to go for these areas!
Results may take a few weeks to a few months to be visible. Be patient! It took a long time to do the damage, repair does not happen overnight! Your skin needs to go through its natural cycle of shedding the old pigmented damaged cells and forming new healthy cells that is your normal skin color.
Maintaining your new healthy skin and preventing more age spots will be up to you! It’s not hard! Use recommended skin care products, use sunscreen that provides protection for both UVA and UVB with an SPF of at least 30. And…. be sun smart! Simple!