Does a glance in the mirror leave you feeling sad, depressed or a bit angry with yourself for not listening to your mother? Stay out of the sun, wear a hat, always use sunscreen; her sage advice would have prevented the problem. Small, brownish discolorations on the skin, often called sun spots, age spots or liver spots, are the result of excessive sun exposure.
Sometimes called age spots or liver spots, small flat black, brown or gray spots that appear on the skin have nothing to do with age or liver function. These small "sun" spots (lentigines or senile lentigines) appear on skin that has experienced continual exposure to the sun. The forehead, cheeks, neck and hands are the body areas where age spots first appear. As the years go by, tender skin is subjected to more and more damage. Melanin pigment in the skin absorbs sunlight and protects the skin from the sun's UV rays. As skin ages, natural defenses weaken and the skin begins to slowly deteriorate, causing the development of discolored spots.
Melasma, also known as the "mask of pregnancy" or chloasma, appears as tanned or brownish spots that discolor the skin. Commonly found in pregnant women or women undergoing hormone replacement therapy, melasma is purely a cosmetic concern. Symptoms present as dark patches on the forehead, upper lip, nose and cheeks.
Age spots are benign and are simply a cosmetic concern. However, people who develop age spots may have an elevated risk of skin cancer. Any fast growing, reddish or weeping spot should be examined by a dermatologist to eliminate the possibility of skin cancer (Melanoma).
Age Spot Treatments
For cosmetic reasons, these spots may be treated with skin lightening formulas (bleaching creams), laser resurfacing, intense pulsed light therapy, chemical peels or freezing (cryotherapy). However, the best medicine is prevention. Always wear sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection. Avoid getting a sunburn. Wear long-sleeved, protective clothing. Wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes. Avoid sun exposure at midday when sun exposure is most damaging.
Alternative medicine options include treatment with organic formulations to bleach the skin with home remedies. Apply two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar mixed with the juice of an onion to the skin lesions. Chop the onion finely and squeeze out the juice through a piece of cheesecloth. Mix the juice with the vinegar and apply to skin spots with a cotton ball. Allow the mixture to remain on the skin for at least 30 minutes prior to bathing. It takes time for sun or age spots to develop. It will take time to remove them. Expect to see noticeable results within six weeks.