Also known as sun spots, solar lentigines, liver spots, or freckles, age spots occur in response to cumulative sun exposure. However, they get the name “age spots” because they usually start becoming more visible with age (commonly in the 40s). Not to be confused with ephelides (the tan freckles that appear in the summer and disappear by winter), age spots are permanent dark areas that do not fade over time. While they are not a health concern, some forms of skin cancer look like age spots when they first appear, so it’s important to monitor any new spots. If you’ve noticed any questionable or changing skin lesions, it’s important to have them checked by a dermatologist. Skin cancer caught early responds best to treatment.
The skin’s surface layer is called the epidermis, and just below that is the dermis. Melanin gives the skin its color, or pigmentation. Sun exposure causes the body to produce more melanin, which is why we get tan. However, with extended sun exposure, the specialized cells (melanocytes) that produce the pigment may produce too much melanin, creating age spots. Certain people are more prone to age spots because of genetics, but most occur due to age and sun exposure.
The best way to prevent age spots is to limit sun exposure. Since that’s not always possible, wear a sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher that has UVA and UVB protection. The problem with preventing age spots is that any sun damage that’s already been accumulated earlier in life can still cause age spots. However, prevention methods will help reduce additional damage and your chances of skin cancer.
Although age spots are not hazardous to your health, they can become a cosmetic concern and contribute to a matured appearance. There are multiple treatment methods for age spots. We commonly treat age spots with laser treatments, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, Allumera® photodynamic therapy, and topical creams. A consultation with one of our physicians will help you decide which treatment method will best suit you.
Age spots can be treated by lasers at our specialty center, the Laser Institute of Georgia. Laser treatment of age spots is quick and easy, requiring no down time. Chemical peels or microdermabrasion treatment from Skin Medics™ Medical Spa can help reduce the appearance of age spots. Chemical peels and microdermabrasion work similarly, by removing the outer damaged layers of skin, causing the new, healthy skin to surface. Topical creams, prescribed after your consultation, can also be used to minimize age spots. Keep in mind that like everything else about you, age spots are unique, and treatments can be adjusted to meet your specific needs.
The content on Dermatology Associates of Atlanta’s website is intended to educate patients about skin conditions and treatments, but is not to be taken as medical advice. Dermatology Associates of Atlanta is not responsible for any omissions of information or any damages arising from the display of said content. Dermatologic treatment must be determined on a per patient basis by a board certified physician. It is recommended that you obtain assistance from a licensed professional for any treatment questions.