What Exactly Are Age Spots?

A young person holds the hand of an older person with sun spots treated by The Dermatology Clinic in Baton Rouge, LA

As people grow older, their skin may develop different characteristics over time. Age spots, also known as sun spots or liver spots, are one of several kinds of age-related markers.

What Are Age Spots?

Age spots appear as small, dark areas on the skin. They can vary greatly in shape, size, and appearance. Age spots earned their name because they are most commonly seen in those older than 50. However, age isn’t the only way these marks can be gained, as they are a result from spending a great deal of time in the sun. This is because ultraviolet rays speed up the skin’s production of melanin, resulting in darker skin. Age spots occur when this melanin gathers together in high concentrations.

Characteristics of Age Spots

Unlike moles, which may be raised, age spots are always flat. They are generally oval-shaped and appear tan, brown, or black. Age spots most commonly appear on the face, hands, shoulders, and arms, which are the parts of the body that normally receive the most sun exposure.

Preventing Age Spots

The best way to prevent age spots is to limit your exposure to the sun and to use sun protection products when sun exposure is unavoidable. This means using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and reapplying at least every two hours. Avoiding direct sun when it is most intense, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., can also help prevent age spots. Finally, refraining from using tanning beds can reduce the risk of age spots considerably.

Reducing the Appearance of Age Spots

Although age spots are not necessarily a cause for concern, many prefer to reduce the appearance of this skin condition. At The Dermatology Clinic, we offer a number of common services that can reduce age spots and other imperfections, including laser treatments such as BroadBand Light therapy and Halo Laser treatment. We also offer a number of non-laser cosmetic services that can reduce the appearance of age spots, including chemical peels such as VI Peel and Melanage Peel, microdermabrasion, and Dermaglide.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Although age spots are very common, there are certain risk factors associated with them. Spots that change in shape or appearance may indicate melanoma, which is a type of skin cancer. If a spot is particularly dark, is quickly growing in size, is oddly colored, has an irregular border, or causes itchiness, redness, bleeding or discomfort, we recommend that you seek the opinion of a trained professional at our dermatology clinic.

Age spots are one of many effects that prolonged sun exposure can have on the skin. If you have concerns about any pigmentation on your skin, schedule an appointment with The Dermatology Clinic today by calling us at (225) 769-7546.

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