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The 411 on Age Spots

A Person With Age Spots
To maintain a healthy lifestyle, you need to eat well, exercise, and attend routine checkups at your doctor's office. Unfortunately, even if you do all those things, certain issues may still arise that affect your physical and emotional health and wellness.
Your body's largest organ, the skin, takes a great deal of abuse as you age, even when following your doctor's recommendations for staying healthy. Age spots are common complaints heard by many physicians. However, most people are not familiar with the causes and treatment options available to treat these spots.
With this guide and the help of your doctor, you will learn the causes, signs, and treatment options for age spots.

Causes

As you age, your skin thins, allowing the melanin to be more visible on the surface. The more melanin that shows through, the more spots you will develop.
Exposure to the sun increases the skin's production of melanin, so certain areas of your skin will be more prone to these spots. Therefore, most age spots occur on the top of the hands, arms, face, neck, shoulders, and chest because they are exposed to the sun more frequently.
As the name suggests, age is also a factor that increases your risk of age spots. In most cases, these spots are most common in individuals who are 50 years of age or older. Patients who spend a large amount of time in the sun will also have a higher risk of developing these spots.

Signs

Age spots will have the following traits:
  • Flat, oval areas of pigmentation
  • Tan, brown, or black in color
  • Measure about the size of a freckle to ½ inch across
  • May develop close to others, creating a cluster of age spots
Spots on your skin that have the above characteristics are most likely age spots. However, certain changes in your skin should be addressed by a medical professional.
If you notice the following signs, the spots may be a form of melanoma, or skin cancer:
  • Dark pigmentation/change in color
  • Increased size
  • Irregularly shaped border
  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Bleeding or oozing from spots
The above signs do not necessarily indicate cancer, but your doctor will recommend further testing that may involve a biopsy of the skin spot to be sure.

Treatment

Age spots will not affect your underlying health, but they do make a big impact on your appearance. Because of their effect, you may feel embarrassed and have a decreased self-esteem and confidence due to the appearance of age spots.
Prescription bleaching creams are options you can consider to treat age spots. These creams are applied directly to the skin's surface, and they help fade away the darker pigmentation the skin, diminishing your age spots. For the most effective lightening of the spots, you should apply the cream daily for a period of a few months.
If you prefer a more efficient option to diminish the age spots, consider pulse light therapy. During this procedure, pulses of laser light technology are directed to the skin's surface, destroying the cells that produce melanin.
Even though a few laser light treatments are needed, you should see a dramatic decrease in your age spots after a few weeks.

Prevention

Although you cannot stop the aging process, you can prevent age spots from developing. One of the easiest ways to fight age spots while protecting your skin from cancer is to wear sunscreen each day. Make sure to choose a sunscreen that protects your skin from both UVA and UVB rays of the sun. The sunscreen should offer a minimum of SPF 30 protection, and it should be applied at least 15 minutes before going out into the sun.
If you plan to be in the sun for a large portion of the day, consider wearing a hat and sunglasses for added protection. Also, take multiple breaks during your time outdoors, sitting in a shaded area that reduces your exposure to the sun's harmful rays.
If you work outdoors, consider wearing long-sleeve clothing and pants even during the warmer breather. Opt for lightweight fabrics that are designed to keep you cool while blocking the sun's UV rays.
For more information on age spots or other skin disorders, contact Basin Family Care, Inc. today.