Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Cause of Age Spots

Age spots, liver spots, brown spots are a few of the names that resemble big freckles. What causes age spots is what we will discuss and later how to remove age spots.

What is Melanin?

In most cases overexposure to the sun is involved. UV rays from the sun stimulate the melanocytes within the skin to produce the pigment melanin. It is one of the body's protective mechanisms. It occurs to prevent UV rays from burning the skin and causing other kinds of damage.

The spot may vary in color, depending on the type of melanin. If the spot is light brown or black, they are composed of the pigment eumelanin. If the spot is red, it is composed of pheomelanin.

Regardless of the color, they are not dangerous, but they have been known to hide skin cancers. The appearance of cancerous melanoma is somewhat similar, but they contain different shades of melanin. Their borders are uneven. They are larger in size and they grow larger as time goes by.

Aging & Age Spots

Aging is another part of what causes age spots. That may be obvious. But, you might wonder why.

Starting at around the age of 40, the skin is less able to regenerate or recover from sun exposure. So, if you spend a lot of time in the sun and you are over the age of 40, you are more likely to develop a spot or two.

When we are young, sun exposure can cause burning or tanning, depending on the intensity and your natural skin tone. The skin is very good at repairing sun damage when we are young.

New cells are rapidly produced to take the place of those that have been damaged. Decreased skin cell production that accompanies the aging process is part of what causes age spots.

Damaged cells are not rapidly replaced. The melanocytes do not function as well and the result is uneven pigmentation.

Crude Oil By-Product?

Exposure to petroleum-based alcohols, which are commonly present in skincare products, can also stimulate melanin production and uneven pigmentation. Petrolatum jelly is a crude oil by product.

Smoking & Poisons

Environmental toxins and cigarette smoke can be contributing factors. They cause increased production and activity of free radicals, very similar to that which is caused by exposure to UV radiation.

The body's immune system can become confused by the toxins and inflammation can occur. The increased production of free radicals may be an immune system response, as some radical molecules (hydrogen peroxide for example) are produced to fight intercellular bacteria.

Age Spots - "liver spots" ?

So, all of these biological processes may be a part of what causes age spots. Although they are sometimes referred to as liver spots, they have nothing to do with the liver.

They are more common in people with liver disease, especially alcoholic fatty liver disease. But, that is because of poor nutrient intake and premature aging, not because of liver dysfunction.

How to Get Rid of Age Spots

Now that we know What Causes Age Spots, we can learn how to remove them with safely.. You can learn about those safe solutions in the next article, How To Remove Age Spots.

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