by Brianna Steen
Age spots are nasty especially on the face. Though they normally are not dangerous it is at least a cosmetic issue that can negatively affect your self-esteem. But age spots might be common on other areas as well - your hands, arms and shoulders most likely. To get rid of age spots you should first be familiar with what they are and where they come from. After that you have to think what would be the best way for you - depending also how much money you are ready to put on the treatment (there are also cheap methods that might be worth of trying). In this article I will first tell you about the age spots and then about the ways to get rid of them but also how to prevent to get them again.
What are age spots?
Age spots as a term refers to the brown spots that appear on the skin. The terms brown spot, sun spot, liver spot, lentigo and senile/solar lentigine mean exactly the same. The spots range from light brown to red or almost black in color. Formerly it was incorrectly believed that liver spots were due to liver problems. Age spots neither have anything to do with how old you are, though they are more common with older people.
Where do the age spots come from?
Since the age spots are the result of the sun, the term sun spot is more accurate and I will call them sun spots from here on. The skin ages in the sun - the longer you have stayed in the sun the older your skin feels even if your physical age is not high at all. The sun damages the melanocytes (cells in the skin's surface layer) that produce melanin pigment and transfer this pigment to other skin cells to help to protect us against the sun's UV rays. Totally these melanocytes form only 5-10% of the cells in skin's surface layer (epidermis).
Many people (like me with Irish background) have very little melanin pigment and their skin is not very affective to protect from the sun exposure and when the sun is shining down on them, the body doesn't know how to respond properly. The result can be abnormal melanin pigment that forms spots.
Can they be dangerous?
Short answer is yes, it is possible that they are cancerous. But in the vast majority they are harmless and no treatment is necessary. To be sure about that you should consult your dermatologist.
Removing spots by medical treatments
Laser treatment is generally very effective method to remove sun spots but it is definitely not the cheapest way. It may require two or more sessions to remove the spots completely, depending on where they are situated and how many there are. The prices vary from about $700 up to $5000. In cryosurgery the abnormal skin cells are destroyed and removed through freezing. Generally it is very quick procedure with quite little side effects. The freezing agent can be applied directly to the skin with a swab or sprayed on. The prices vary from $300 up to $2000 but the quality of treatment is very much comparable to the price especially on the lower price levels.
Chemical peels involve a chemical solution applied to the surface of the skin. The type of the chemical solution and the method of affects on the depth of the peeling. There's a little downtime after the treatment but also little side effects as irritated skin. The prices are from $600 to $900. Microdermabrasion consists a variety of treatment which rejuvenate the very upper layers of the skin. These are, for example, creams with abrasive particulates and utilizing crystals which are passed across the skin to sand the skin down. As a result the skin will generally feel smoother right after treatment with a diminished appearance of sun spots. The prices vary generally from $100 to $400
There is a wide range of topical products sold for sun spot treatment. Most involve a bleaching agent. When trying to treat individual spots, bleaching creams tend to bleach the surrounding areas more than the spots themselves. In my opinion these creams don't work as they should. All bleaching creams, Retin-As and alpha hydroxy acids make you more sensitive to the sun. And where did the age spots come from?
Natural removal of age spots
There are several natural methods that provide "guaranteed" solutions to get rid of the age spots for the rest of your life. I can tell you that most of them do not do what they say. But if you can carefully choose the method, you might find a method that works for you - and pay much less than you would do if you were consulting a doctor. So in my experience a carefully chosen all natural method would be worth of trying first. It will generally cost you less than $50 including the detailed instructions plus the ingredients. I would recommend you to read more on a book called Skin tags removal.
Prevent the development of sun spots
As the treatments can only remove existing sun spots they cannot prevent the development of the new spots. This is something you have to do by yourself. It is very simple. Just protect yourself from the sun exposure! Avoid sun, protect your skin with clothes and hat and wear sunscreen all the time. It's never too late to start, you can prevent damages and reduce your skin aging. Most of the sun damage we receive occurs while we are driving. Car windows filter 100% of UVA rays (that causes burns) but none of the UVB which is responsible for sun damage and skin aging. Maybe you should consider installing UVB-protecting film on your car windows.
Age spots have nothing to do with your physical age, they come from the time you have been in the sun exposure. They are a skin cell malfunction caused by sun's UV rays. To avoid these spots you have to protect yourself from the sun. There are several treatment methods to remove age spots but they are generally ineffective or expensive. By choosing a good all natural method you might save hundreds of dollars.