Age spots, commonly referred to as “liver spots” or “sun spots,” are perfectly normal and rarely a cause for concern. They normally appear on people who are over the age of 40 on areas of their bodies that have received the most sun exposure over the course of many years – such as the face, shoulders, arms, tops of the hands, and forehead. Age spots are patches of skin that are usually darker in color than a person’s normal skin tone – ranging from light brown to black. Age spots are flat and they should not cause a person any pain. Despite the fact that age spots are often called “liver spots,” they actually don’t have anything to do with the health of a person’s liver.
Are Age Spots Dangerous?
As people grow older and start to notice age spots on their skin, they often become worried that the spots are potentially dangerous and signs of a significant skin problem. However, a dermatologist should be able to visually diagnose age spots and relieve patients’ worries that the spots are in any way life-threatening. If age spots look irregular or are a cause for concern, a biopsy may be ordered. However, the more exposure people have to direct sunlight during their lifetime, the higher the likelihood that age spots will appear as they grow older. If you have one or more age spots that seem to be getting larger or changing shape or color, or if the spot(s) becomes painful, it’s important to make an appointment with a dermatologist for an evaluation.
Can Age Spots be Removed?
Most people do not attempt to have their age spots removed – and simply accept them as a normal aspect of growing older. But those who wish to reduce the appearance of age spots may try applying bleaching creams to the affected areas. This is a simple approach, but it is not always successful in completely eliminating dark patches of skin. For individuals willing to go a step further, laser treatments and other procedures can be highly effective at getting rid of the dark patches of skin caused by age spots. While it may be possible to remove age spots, treatment is considered cosmetic and optional in almost all circumstances.
How to Prevent Age Spots?
Since age spots are the result of prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays over the course of many years, it’s important to be diligent with limiting your exposure to the sun starting at a young age. It’s difficult to prevent age spots from appearing once sun exposure has already occurred for many decades. However, it’s never too late to cover your skin adequately when in direct sunlight by wearing long sleeves, hats, sunscreen, and other protective gear.