Days spent in the sun without sunscreen leave signs on our skin. For some of us, the appearance of age spots can take away from having beautiful and youthful skin. If you’re looking for ways to reduce the appearance of these spots, then this article is for you!
Liver spots, or age spots, are a common skin problem and many people struggle with them. Contrary to what their name suggests, age spots have less to do with aging and more to do with being exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
Fortunately, there are treatments available. In this article, I’ll discuss different treatment options like laser therapy, peeling agents, and various creams so you’ll know how to treat this condition effectively.
Who gets liver spots on their skin?
Age spots, (also known as solar lentigo or liver spots) are flat dark brown or black spots that typically occur on areas of the skin that have had more exposure to the sun – such as the face, hands, and arms. Liver spots can be quite common, especially among those aged 50 and above. However, younger people, including teenagers and young adults, can also get liver spots.
Anyone who has had prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light, either through spending time in direct sunlight or using indoor tanning beds may develop these spots. They can also be caused by a hormonal imbalance or certain skin conditions such as acne or psoriasis. It’s important to remember that liver spots are usually harmless although it may be worth seeking medical advice if they appear suddenly or change shape in any way at all.
Common Symptoms and Causes
Symptoms and causes of age spots include sun damage, genetics, aging, and skin type. It can vary in size, shape, and color (from light to dark brown).
These spots are caused by prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. As UV radiation penetrates the skin and damages its cells, oxygen molecules react with the components within our cells—resulting in changes to their structural makeup. This process increases pigment production that’s localized within certain areas of the body—resulting in these spots.
Another factor contributing to age spot development is genetics. If a person’s parents had liver spots or moles on their skin before they passed away, you may be more likely to develop them too. Further still, aging — combined with natural collagen and elastin synthesis loss — makes our skin more susceptible to discolorations like liver spots. Finally, your particular skin composition is also relevant; people with fair complexions tend to be more prone than darker-skinned individuals.
What do age spots look like?
Liver spots, or age spots, are small patches of darker skin color than the surrounding skin. They often look like freckles, but they tend to be larger and don’t go away over time. Skin spots can vary in size and shape, but they are typically oval or round with a slightly flat surface. The most common areas for liver spots are the face, back of hands, shoulders, arms, and feet – any place that has been exposed to the sun over time which is why these are also sometimes referred to as sun spots.
Liver spots usually range from light brown to dark brown in color depending on the individual’s level of exposure to the sun. Some may even appear as black discolorations on a person’s skin. While you can’t always tell whether an area is a liver spot just by looking at it, doctors can perform specialized tests in order to determine if these dark spots are indeed liver spots.
Diagnosis and Tests
When it comes to diagnosing these spots, a visual inspection is typically all that’s required. A doctor or dermatologist will be able to look at the spot and identify it as an age spot. In some cases, they may also suggest a skin biopsy in which a small sample of skin is removed and inspected under the microscope for further testing.
Liver spots can be mistaken for other types of lesions such as moles or melanoma. It’s important to have a doctor diagnose any spots or lesions on your skin that you are concerned about to get the right treatment as soon as possible if it is something other than an age spot.
If you think you have these spots, diagnosis can happen during a routine office visit with your primary care provider, or with specialty visits with a dermatologist or plastic surgeon if desired. If there are concerns that the lesion could be something more serious like skin cancer, then a referral to a specialist should be requested for further testing and evaluation.
It’s important to get an accurate diagnosis and tests for liver spots before any treatment is considered. Your doctor will typically begin by taking a clinical history of your medical condition and examining the affected skin. They might also perform a skin biopsy to determine that the age spots are benign and not melanoma.
Management and Treatment
Treatment depends on the patient’s age, medical history, and symptoms. For minor spots, topical or prescription creams can help reduce their appearance. These creams include hydroquinone which works to lighten the skin by reducing melanin production and encouraging cell turnover. Retinoids may also be prescribed as they help increase cell turnover and encourage collagen growth over time.
For more severe cases, laser treatments can be used to break down melanin deposits. This process is called “selective photothermolysis” and involves targeting specific wavelengths of light at the spots to slowly lighten them over a period of several weeks or months depending on the severity of the condition.
Additionally, they can try special types of light therapy, such as ultraviolet light or laser therapy. These treatments are suitable if age spots have recently appeared, as they may help reduce their visibility. However, this approach doesn’t always work; it depends on the type and severity of the spots.
Ultraviolet light therapy may be used along with other treatments such as retinoids, hydroquinone, or tretinoin creams which help reduce age spots. A dermatologist may suggest testing to check for any signs of toxicity due to the use of these products before using them for treating age spots.
In addition to treatment options, self-management techniques such as avoiding direct sun exposure and wearing physical sunscreen should also be implemented for optimal results. The use of topical creams with a sun protection factor (SPF) is also helpful in preventing skin damage by the sun. By taking care of your skin with proper skincare regimens you can preemptively prevent future age spots from forming!