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Fade Age Spots – The Blotch Chronicles

Updated on September 19, 2008

It is a common misconception that sunscreen helps fade age spots (also called “liver spots”). It does not. Sunscreen, in some cases, prevents many skin problems but more often than not, it just delays their development. In other words, sunscreen is not a cure.

What is that?

Age spots are blotches on the skin that vary in size and color. They may be as small as a pea or big as a dime. They can be light brown on mom’s hands and dark as black on grandma’s.

Why, oh why, does it have to happen to me?

Contrary to what its name suggests, age spots are not primarily brought about by physical maturity. They are the effects of excessive sun exposure that usually manifest on people with lighter skin tones which are more vulnerable to Ultraviolet (UV) rays. Melanin, a natural substance that gives color, helps protect the skin against UV rays. The less melanin the body produces, the lighter the skin tone is. This, however, does not exempt darker people from getting age spots.

They’re everywhere!

No, they are not. Age spots appear on skin often or always exposed to the sun such as the back of the hand, face, upper back, and shoulders. They rarely develop in unexposed areas such as between the thighs.

Sound the Alarm!

Age spots are known to be harmless. However, regardless of their size and color, a visit to a doctor or dermatologist is highly recommended as age spots very much resemble skin cancer in its early stages. Self-medicating and heading to the drugstore “right now!” to find something to fade age spots might be tempting. It is important to note though, research shows that premature treatment may rid the skin of the substance doctors need to study to rule out cancer.

Seek professional advice not just to find ways to fade age spots, but also to make sure you are in good health.

Need help with age spots on your skin?

We've reviewed some of the more popular skin lighteners on the market to try to get past the hype. Read our reviews to learn which ones worked and which ones did more harm than good.

There’s got to be something I can do!

As in most things in life, if there’s a will, there is a way. There are many treatments offered to treat age spots:

  • Medication

A lot of medications available to treat age spots have bleaching agents such as hydroquinone. Hydroquinone, while it does its wonders, may cause skin discoloration, especially on darker skinned individuals. There are also non-prescription creams that help fade age spots with kojic and glycolic acid through natural peeling.

  • Chemical Peel

This treatment removes the outer layer of the skin with the use of trichloroacetic acid (TCA). The temporary side effects are redness of the skin and swelling which generally last for about two to three days.

  • Laser Therapy

This is known to have little or no significant side effects but can be very costly. Laser is used to destroy excess melanocytes (an epidermal cell that forms the melanin). The effect of this treatment is not instantaneous. It may take a few weeks up to several months for age spots to fade gradually.

  • Cryotherapy

It is the application of liquid nitrogen directly to the age spots. The process freezes off and destroys extra pigment. There are some risks of discoloration or permanent scarring.

  • Micro Dermabrasion

This procedure basically cleans and sands off the top layer of the skin, allowing new skin to grow. Possible side effects are scarring, skin discoloration, and redness.

What is the moral of the story?

Wear sunscreen and reduce sun exposure, most especially after you have had skin treatment. The darker the age spots, the higher your sunscreen SPF should be. Sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 is suggested; SPF 30 is highly recommended. It is best to let your skin absorb it for 30 minutes so apply half an hour before stepping out.

It is not so much about how to fade age spots; it is what you do to not nurture this natural phenomenon.

Are you ready to get rid of the age spots on your skin?

Did you know that some over-the-counter skin lighteners can actually darken certain skin? We've reviewed the popular dark spot skin creams and learned which ones worked and which ones didn't. Read our reviews to learn which ones actually do more harm than good.

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