As we age, we tend to get flat brown spots on our hands and other areas of the body, commonly known as age spots. However, these round or oval spots are not caused by aging, nor by skin issues, but by years of accumulated sun exposure.
According to research, age spots are the result of free-radical damage in the body which can be caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. Radiation and heat trauma are also associated with age spots.
What are Age Spots?
When the skin is affected by UV light, the natural protection by the skin is for the body to produce melanin. This darker pigment of the skin may look good as a sun tan, but the process appears to accelerate the formation of age spots.
These spots appear anywhere that has excessive exposure to UV light from the sun or tanning beds. Although they are most common on hands as we age, they can also form on the face, shoulders and arms.
Age spots are also commonly called liver spots or sun spots. They may be brown, gray or black and can look unsightly. What they are actually made up of is an accumulation of debris in the cells of the skin.
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You are most at risk of developing age spots and other skin issues from the sun, such as burning and melanoma, if you have fair skin and frequently use a tanning bed or are exposed to the sun without adequate sun protection. The risk of age spots is also increased in people over the age of 40.
Are Age Spots a Health Risk?
Unlike moles or melanomas, age spots are perfectly smooth. They are also harmless and do not present a health risk. However, if your doctor is concerned that the dark spot may not be harmless, she may perform a biopsy to rule out cancer or other abnormalities.
If an age spot becomes unsightly, there are several treatment procedures including foods that can naturally fade or erase these liver spots naturally. Other more invasive options include laser treatments, chemical peels, dermabrasion or cryosurgery to freeze the age spots using liquid nitrogen.
To prevent the development of age spots and other undesirable skin issues, or to protect delicate new skin after treatment, always wear a protective sunscreen to filter out those harmful UV rays. Remember to stay fully hydrated, occasionally exfoliate the dead surface skin cells by using extra fine sea salt mixed with a bit of natural liquid soap and water. Follow that with a rich moisturizer; and remember to use a daily moisturizer as well.