Age Spots: Causes and Treatment
Age spots or liver spots, are the blemishes on the skin, occur most frequently on the back, shoulder, hands and face of the people. These flat brown or black spots are more common in those with a fair complexion. There are many factors leading to the occurrence of age spots in people over the age of 40, but the common ones include over exposure to UV rays, increasing age, and genetics. Although, these spots may look like cancerous growths, more often than not, they are harmless.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, age spots are formed due to prolonged exposure to sun. This causes deposition of melanin beneath the skin, which leads to the appearance of age spots on the skin. No exercise, unhealthy diet, consumption of stale oils and faulty liver functions are some other reasons that can lead to age spots. Over exposure to ultraviolet rays from tanning beds can also result in these spots, thereby making it necessary to take extra precaution while getting yourself that tan, naturally or unnaturally.
Age spots have many symptoms with which they can be easily identified. Some of them are as follows:
- Appearance of flat, oval areas of increased pigmentation on the skin in black, brown and tan colours.
- Occur mostly on the skin exposed to sun; like the back of hands, top of your feet, face, shoulders and upper back.
- Can vary in size – from as small as a freckle to ½ inch. Sometimes, age spots group together to form more prominent appearances.
- Have the same texture as the rest of the skin.
- Are painless.
There are two ways in which an age spot can be diagnosed. One is through a visual inspection by your doctor, and the other one involves a skin biopsy. If your doctor finds anything suspicious during the visual inspection, he can suggest a lab test. For this, a sample of the affected skin area is taken for lab examination to test for cancer and other abnormalities.
There are also a number of medical treatments available to lighten or remove the age spots. The pigment causing age spots is located at the base of the epidermis (the topmost layer of the skin), making it necessary to penetrate this layer for any treatment.
- Laser and Intense Pulsed Light Therapy: This therapy works to destroy melanin-producing cells without causing any damage to the skin’s surface. This treatment requires more than one sessions to fade away the age spots. Laser Therapy also has a few side effects, like slight discoloration of the skin.
- Medicines: Medicinal treatment includes the use of bleaching creams, used alone or in combination with retinoid. Mild steroids can also be used in the treatment as they help in spot removal over a period of several months.
- Chemical Peel: This involves the application of an acid that burns the outermost layer of your skin, and so the age spots. After the treatment, new and flawless skin forms while replacing the burned skin.
- Freezing (cryotherapy): In this treatment, liquid nitrogen is applied to the age spots. This destroys the extra pigment and thereby helps the skin to get rid of spots. A point to note here is that freezing can also pose a slight risk of permanent scarring or discoloration.
- Dermabrasion: Dermabrasion is the process of rapidly rotating a brush over the surface of your skin. It removes the top layer of the skin and a new layer of the skin forms at its place. It can cause temporary redness or scab formation on the skin.
There are several effective medical treatments recommended by dermatologists for removal or reduction of age spots. They are effective, but can sometimes be harsh. This is because the treatments are done using chemicals that may be detrimental to your health in some way. Fortunately, there are several home remedies known to reduce or remove age spots. They sometimes take a little longer in treating age spots but are not heavy on your pocket and have no side effects as well. Let’s take a look at some of the proven home remedy options to get rid of these unwanted blemishes;
- Lemon Juice and Yogurt: Both lemon Juice and yogurt act as a bleaching agent as they help in lightening these spots. Other properties of lemon like citric acid, anti-antioxidants, etc. also help in fading away the dark spots.
- Castor Oil: Age spots can sometimes be rough in texture. If the same is the case with you, apply castor oil on the spots twice a day regularly for few months. You will see a distinct improvement in the appearance where the texture becomes smooth.
- Onion and Apple Cider Vinegar: Blend an onion and drain it, with the help of strainer, into a bowl. Mix an equal amount of apple cider vinegar to this and apply over the spots with a cotton swab dipped in this decoction. This will certainly help in removing the age spots. You can also apply onion separately on the spots given to its Vitamin C rich composition.
- Aloe Vera Juice: Aloe Vera has been found to have tremendous potential in treating dermatological conditions like burns and scars. Gel or juice obtained from Aloe Vera can be directly rubbed on affected regions to treat them.
- Horseradish: Mix some horseradish into a bowl of milk for 20-30 minutes and then apply the mixture on the spots. Because of its richness in antioxidants and other volatile compounds, the appearance of the spots will fade away rapidly.
- Olive Oil and Vinegar: A mixture of olive oil and vinegar can be used to erase the age spots. This mixture should be washed off with water within half an hour of its application.
- Papaya: Papaya pulp can be rubbed on the spotted area. Wash it off after 15-20 minutes of its application. Daily use of this remedy will help yield maximum results.
- Orange Juice and Apple Cider Vinegar: 2 to 3 spoons of orange juice can be mixed in a half spoon of apple cider vinegar. If this mixture is applied on the spots for about a month, you can expect a visible result.
- Buttermilk and Tomato: Due to the presence of acid in buttermilk and tomato, they prove to be very beneficial in removing age spots. Not just that, they also act as an effective cleanser.
- Watermelon: Rich in antioxidant compounds and vitamin C, rubbing the rind of a watermelon on the age spots will help improve the condition.
- Garlic: Paste made of garlic has been observed to be efficient in treating age spots.
- Cucumber Juice: The bleaching properties of cucumber’s organic compounds help improve the appearance of the skin by reducing age spots.
- Dandelion: Dandelion stem has been proven to cure a number of skin problems. Age spots can also be effectively treated by consuming this powerful plant every day.
- Radish, Vinegar, Lime Juice and Rosemary Oil: A concoction of lime juice, radish, rosemary oil and vinegar is prepared and applied to the affected area. This not only cleanses the skin but also brightens its color and glow.
- Rose Water and Sandal Powder: Make a paste of these two and then apply it on the affected areas. Leave it to dry for some time, and then wash it with fresh water.
To prevent the appearance of age spots on your skin, you can take certain precautions. These include:
- Shade: Individuals who stay indoors or under the shade do not suffer age spots that are a result of sun exposure. Therefore, it can be avoided if your skin is not exposed to UV sun rays.
- Covering the Skin: The areas prone to getting these spots must be kept covered with sunscreen or a piece of clothing when under the sun.
You can follow the above to prevent these unwanted spots. Besides causing some emotional distress and change in appearance of the skin, there is not much harm that can be caused by the presence of age Spots. In most cases, they are treatable and non-cancerous.