Growing older doesn’t necessarily cause age spots. Too much exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun, is more likely the cause of these unattractive blotches, before maturity sets in. Other factors that makes one more susceptible to these unsightly age spots, are smoking, a diet that’s high in refined sugars and fats, a lack of vitamins, and over consumption of poor quality saturated oils.
Age spots occur, when the skin produces too much lipofuscin, which is a dark substance that colors the skin pigment. These unsightly age spots, can begin appearing as early as our late twenties, but are most common after the age of 55 and beyond.
Age spots are also known as liver spots, or referred to as brown spots, lentigo, or sun spots. The reference to sun spots, comes from the fact that the skin darkens, because of excess ultraviolet exposure from the hot sun during the summer.
Natural Preventative Cures
As is the case with most skin conditions, age spots are easier to prevent, than to cure. Diet has a lot to do with reducing the chances of developing this unsightly condition.
Particularly eating a diet rich in orange vegetables, such as carrots and yams, along with green leafy vegetables, such as collard greens and watercress, can potentially help reduce the chances of developing these spots as one ages.
These foods are rich in antioxidants, which helps fight off damaging free radicals that are created as the result of too much exposure to the sun. They are also foods that are rich in Vitamin A and carotene, which helps keep the skin in pristine condition, and more resistant to ultraviolet rays.
Help Reduce Age Spots
If you already have developed age spots, there are ways to reduce how they appear. There are several products on the market, which can effectively fade them, so they are less noticeable. The active ingredient in these over the counter products, is the chemical hydroquinone.
Hydroquinone is a mild bleaching agent, that helps lighten the appearance of most types of dark skin discolorations, including age spots, scars and freckles. Some prescription versions of this cream, also contain topical vitamin A, which helps in fading the age spots.
Clinical Cosmetic Solutions
If the age spots are in unfortunate places such as directly on the face, there are ways to cosmetically reduce their appearance. One of the more popular cosmetic treatments, is a chemical peel. These peels, contain anywhere from 70% to 80 % glycolic acid, which removes layers of the skin, to help reduce the appearance of the spots.
Another option is laser resurfacing. Using this procedure, the age spots are literally burned away by using a sophisticated, targeted laser. This treatment however, usually works better on pale skin with contrasting darker age spots. The reason for this, is because the process needs a contrast of colors, such as dark brown on white, for it to be effective.
Dark age spots on dark pigmented skin, doesn’t usually respond as well, when doing laser treatment. If the age spot is lighter, or a neutral color, laser resurfacing may also not remove the spots effectively. Black or dark brown age spots on fair skin, responds the best for this treatment.
Managing Age Spots
Most age spots are just harmless blotches, but can also be the early stages of melanoma. Always consult with a dermatologist, if the age spot enlarges, thickens, changes color, itches or bleeds. Irregularly shaped dark spots that change in color, or increase in size, could be early warning signs.
The best way to reduce age spots, is by keeping out of the direct sun by wearing a long sleeved shirt and a hat, this especially for young children. Make sure that you always wear sunscreen, during those times when the ultraviolet rays are the strongest. Always drink plenty of water, to keep the skin supple.