How To Treat Age Spots, According To Experts
5 minutes read
Age spots are harmless, but they can toll on someone else’s self-esteem as they are often associated with ageing. They also appear as pesky marks in younger people who spend time under the sun without adequate sun protection.
If you find age spots unsightly, we have consulted with top dermatologists on how to remove age spots naturally or reduce their appearance along with expert-backed ways to prevent and protect yourself.
What are age spots?
Age spots, also called sunspots, are the most common type of hyperpigmentation. Age and sun are both common reasons someone may develop this condition – hence the term.
“Also known as liver spots – not because they were caused by the liver but because they are liver coloured,” explains Dr Jessica Krant, M.D. New York-based Board-Certified Dermatologist and Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Centre.
Although harmless, it can take a toll on someone else’s self-esteem as age spots are often associated with ageing.
What are the common causes of age spots?
1. Ageing and accumulated sun exposure:
Dr Therianou says: “Age spots usually appear in areas with the most sun exposure over the years, such as hands, feet, face, shoulders, and upper back. But this depends on the amount of sun the skin has been exposed to over the years.”
2. Extreme and unprotected sun exposure:
Don’t be fooled by the term ‘age spots’: “Younger people can have them too. This type is called solar lentigines (sun-induced freckle), especially if they spend a lot of time in the sun without the proper sun protection,” explains Dr Therianou.
Experts say sunspots can often be confused with freckles, given their similar appearance. However, freckles tend to fade away post-sun exposure whilst age spots are permanent.
3. After menopause (hormonal drop)
Age spots on the face, hands, and chest can look more evident around menopause. This is due to the decrease of oestrogen, leading to lower production of melanin. Skin can then become more susceptible to signs of sun damage, such as age spots and wrinkles.
Word of Caution: If you spot any freckle, mole, or sunspot that changes in colour, shape, or size and may find it suspicious, it might be cancerous. A personal history of several sunburns increases the risk of melanoma, a form of skin cancer. Early detection is key. Consult your dermatologist if you find any of these.
Read next: Can You Reverse Sun Damage?
4. Other factors: Genetics, HPV
Another type of age spot is seborrhoeic keratoses (SK), also known as seborrhoeic warts. SK have a rough surface and range in colour from golden and mid-brown to almost black.
Although health authorities are not sure what causes them, it has been suggested that exposure to sunlight and the human papillomavirus (HPV) are risk factors.
“It is common in older people, but also younger people have them. You can see this in people in their 50s or even 30 who are fond of outdoor activities. It is common on the face, and neck, at the back of the hands,” Dr Therianou explains.
They are not infectious and do not become skin cancer. Some individuals may inherit the tendency to develop SK from their parents.
The British Association of Dermatologists says that in the UK more than half the men and more than a third of women would have at least one SK.
How to prevent age spots
The best way to protect age spots from happening in the first place is to limit sun exposure. You should use broad-spectrum SPF daily and reapply every two hours, along with wearing sun-protective clothing, like a sun hat. Wide-brimmed hats that surround the head offer the most protection.
Loading up your diet with antioxidant-rich food may help prevent age spots too. For example, vitamin A (think leafy greens) helps fight free radical damage, vitamin C (think berries) helps to improve uneven skin pigmentation, boost collagen, while Vitamin E (think oils, nuts, and seeds) supports cell function.
What is the fastest way to get rid of age spots?
1. Through professional treatments:
Dr Krant says: “Some age spots such as [solar] lentigines and seborrheic keratoses will never fade naturally.”
“And it usually depends on which area of the body they are, the type of age spots and their size,” Dr Therianou says. Adding, “But generally speaking it can be shaved under local anaesthetic and can be scraped off and removed by chemical peels or with laser.”
2. Through age spot fighting skincare routine:
Treating sunspots (younger people)
Beauty Daily recommends incorporating Vitamin C (also called L-ascorbic acid) skincare products into your beauty regimen. Vitamin C is best known for its brightening properties and fading hyperpigmentation abilities.
Our pick: Check out the products at the Extra-Firming Range. They are all powered by a vitamin C derivative called acerola as its key ingredient. This is a plant alternative that is proven to target sunspots. A great addition is also the cult favourite and turmeric-infused Double Serum.
Applying Bright Plus Advanced Dark Spot-Targeting Serum to spots will also help fade away dark pigments.
Age spots (related to ageing, sun exposure and/ hormonal drop)
Plant and fruit extract desert date and hexylresorcinol are scientifically proven to reduce the appearance of age spots and are key ingredients in the Clarins’ 60 and up Nutri-Lumière Range.
The age spot busting ingredient is the Montepellier rock rose. Research led by the National Institute for Health and Medical Research found it effectively targets dark spots linked to ageing, especially following hormonal changes. Result? A reduction of 48.9 % in age spots after two months of using Clarins Super Restorative Night Cream.
To diminish age spots on your hands, try the Super Restorative Age-Control Hand Cream.