How to Lighten and Eliminate Age Spots!

Elderly people often develop age spots on their hands.
Elderly people often develop age spots on their hands.

I love my Grandmother. She is one beautiful ninety year old lady! The other day while visiting my Nana (that is what I have called her since I was two), I noticed that her hands were covered with age spots. I'm sure the spots on the back of her hands have been there for many years…I guess I just never noticed until now. Those brown spots on her skin got me thinking. Exactly WHAT are age spots and are they really caused by age? If I start a skin care program now and start using skin care products such as the Obagi Skin Creams that my doctor sells will I avoid getting them?

In reality, age spots are not caused by age at all. Who knew!? In fact, those flat, brown spots that you see on many older people's hands are actually large, sun-induced freckles (since the sun is blamed for just about every skin condition known to man, I should've known)! Age spots are caused over time due to sun exposure. An individual who has a lot of sun exposure as a young person can actually develop age spots as early as twenty years old (another reason to slap on that sunscreen, people!). Age spots are not pretty (to say the least) and are also called liver and sun spots.

Don't forget your lips! They need protection from the sun too!
Don't forget your lips! They need protection from the sun too!

If you have age spots (it doesn't matter whether they are on your face, hands, neck or shoulders) you should keep an eye on them. You may even consider making an appointment with a dermatologist as age spots can lead to skin cancer. If you have an age spot that bleeds, tingles, or changes in size or color, there is nothing to consider…make a doctor's appointment as soon as possible! Better to be safe rather than sorry when it comes to your health!

Thankfully there are products you can buy and things you can do to fade age spots. First of all, LIMIT YOUR EXPOSURE TO THE SUN! I know you have heard how bad the sun is for your skin….so this tip is an obvious one. Fair warning, if you already have age spots, the sun can darken them. It is VERY IMPORTANT that you apply sunblock at least 15 minutes BEFORE you leave your house. Make sure that the sunblock you use contains protection from both UVA and UVB rays and has a sun protection factor (better known as SPF) of at least 15. If you plan on being in the sun all day (say…on a fishing or golf trip) make sure the sunblock you use has a SPF of at least 30. Also, don't forget to reapply every two to three hours...no matter what!

Put a Hat on It!

If you are going to be on the beach all day…wear a hat!! Pick up an entertainment magazine next time you are waiting in line at the grocery store…you probably won't see a celebrity on the beach without one! Well, there's a reason for that! Hats are a wonderful way to protect your face, head and neck from the sun; however, you must wear a hat that actually blocks the rays! Baseball caps, for example, don't cover your ears and barely cast a shadow over your face. Straw hats, while cute beach attire, won't protect you either as the sun can penetrate directly through the flimsy straw that it is made of. Choose a hat that has an extra long bill and a protective sun cloth sewn inside. I know, doesn't sound very cute…but when you are dealing with the health of your skin…practical over rules fashionable (sorry ladies)! One other thing…when out in the sun all day…don't forget to protect your lips! Apply a lip protector that is made with a sun protection formula and apply before you leave the house (reapply every hour or two).

Over the counter bleaching agents can also help to lighten age spots. Lightening agents contain an ingredient known as hydroquinone which can lighten age spots or if you are lucky, make them disappear all together! When used in tandem with a GOOD moisturizing cream…lightening agents can work wonders! It is important to remember that all good things take time…so patience is key! In fact, some age spots won't appear lighter for at least six to nine months. If you do decide to try a bleaching agent it is very important that you read and follow the directions VERY carefully!

Over the counter creams can help reduce the look of dark age spots!
Over the counter creams can help reduce the look of dark age spots!

Two other age spot treatments that you might consider are laser resurfacing and chemical peels. Of course, both MUST BE performed by a doctor and can be quite expensive. Laser resurfacing can cost thousands of dollars (it all depends on how large the area being treated is) and there is a healing process involved. Chemical peels, though much less expensive, can be dangerous if not performed properly. If you are considering a chemical peel to get rid of your age spots, it is VERY IMPORTANT that you do your homework and RESEARCH the doctor before allowing him or her to perform any "peeling" procedure.

Though unsightly, age spots are not uncommon. My Nana doesn't seem to notice hers (or maybe she doesn't care as she never mentions them either!). If you want to avoid getting age spots…get out of the sun…it is that simple! If you already have age spots…don't worry…as mentioned above, there are many things you can do to lighten them or get rid of them all together! Be good to your skin…and your skin will be good to you. Here's to your health!

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mtkomori 5 years ago from Yokohama, Japan

This was quite useful. I'm 44 but have had two age spots on my left cheek since my mid thirties. I noticed these while camping one summer! I've developed at least two more on my right cheek and come to think of it, I go out on our deck without sun protection, thinking that it's a hassle. Also, because of our long winters, I have this tendency to want to go out in the sun as soon as the snow melts. As you say, I will wear sun protection when I go out in the sun next time and maybe I'll try a product that will lighten my age spots! Thanks for a great hub!

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