By KMC Dermatology and MedSpa
Age spots — also called liver spots and solar lentigines — are flat tan, brown or black spots. They vary in size and usually appear on the face, hands, shoulders and arms — areas most exposed to the sun.
Age spots are very common in adults older than age 50. But, younger people can get them too, especially if they spend a lot of time in the sun.
Although age spots can look like cancerous growths, true age spots are harmless and don’t need treatment. For cosmetic reasons, age spots can be lightened with skin-bleaching products or removed. However, preventing age spots — by avoiding the sun and using sunscreen — may be the easiest way to maintain your skin’s youthful appearance.
Age spots may grow in size and group together, giving the skin a speckled or mottled appearance. They’re very common in areas that get repeated sun exposure, such as on the back of the hand.
Age spots typically develop in people with a fair complexion, but they can be seen in those with darker skin.
– Are flat, oval areas of increased pigmentation
– Are usually tan, brown or black
– Occur on skin that has had the most sun exposure over the years, such as the backs of hands, tops of feet, face, shoulders and upper back
– Age spots range from freckle size to more than 1/2 inch (13 millimeters) across and can group together, making them more prominent.
When to see a doctor
You may not like the way they look, but age spots are usually harmless and don’t require medical care. However, your doctor should evaluate spots that are dark or have changed in appearance, because these changes can be signs of melanoma, a serious form of skin cancer.
It’s best to have any new skin changes evaluated by a doctor, especially if a spot or lesion:
– Is darkly pigmented
– Is rapidly increasing in size
– Has an irregular border
– Has an unusual combination of colors
– Is accompanied by itching, redness, tenderness or bleeding
About Liver Spots
Lentigines, or liver spots, are benign lesions that occur on the sun-exposed areas of the body. The backs of hands and face are common areas. The lesions tend to increase in number with age, making them common among the middle age and older population. They can vary in size from 0.2 to 2 cm. These flat lesions usually have discrete borders, are dark in color, and have an irregular shape.
These lesions are caused by a marked increase in the number of pigment cells located in the superficial layers of the skin. A biopsy should be considered if a lesion develops a highly irregular border, changes in pigmentation, or changes in the thickness to rule out cancer.
Lentigines are usually benign, therefore, treatment is not necessary. For cosmetic purposes, some successful treatments include: cryotherapy, hydroquinone preparations (bleaching
preparations), retinoid cream, or chemical peels.
Laser and intense pulsed light (IPL) treatments are also used to help minimize the appearance of lentigines. IPL therapy, which KMC offers at our Shawnee location, is a non-ablative (does not cause damage to the epidermis) and non-invasive treatment that uses pulses of visible light to destroy melanin-producing cells and help improve the appearance of age spots. After several treatments, age spots gradually fade over a few weeks or months.
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Protective measures should be taken to avoid any excessive sunlight exposure. These include sunscreen and protective clothing, such as hats and long sleeves.