Age spots, also known as liver spots, are clusters of excess melanin that create brown or gray areas on skin exposed to the sun, including arms, hands, back, and legs. Although they are harmless, they can appear unsightly and are associated with aging. Treatments for brown spots include skin lightening products, professional skin treatments, and prevention. Visit your dermatologist to determine the best method of treatment for your skin.
Things You'll Need
- Skin lightening cream
Apply skin lightening creams. Many skin lightening or bleaching creams contain hydroquinone, deoxyarbutin, or glycolic acid to lighten the brown spot. Follow the product's instructions for proper use, as misuse can result in skin irritation. Use a cotton swab to apply the cream only on the brown spot, as the cream will lighten any skin it comes in contact with.
Consider dermabrasion. Dermabrasion is a surgical procedure that sands down the epidermis, the top layer of skin, which causes the dermis to create new collagen to firm up the skin. This procedure effectively removes brown spots, but possible side effects include infection and scarring. Pain, redness, and swelling are common symptoms that occur shortly after the surgical procedure, but they subside within 2 to 3 days.
Try cryotherapy treatments, which remove brown spots by freezing them with liquid nitrogen. The chemical breaks up the melanin, and as the spot heals, the skin will lighten. The risks of cryotherapy include permanent scarring and discoloration of the skin. This procedure should only be performed by a licensed skin care professional, to avoid injury.
Get a chemical peel. Chemical peels remove brown spots by applying acid to the epidermis, which burns off the spots and causes new collagen to form. As the old skin peels off, the area heals, and new skin is created. Swelling, tenderness, and redness are common after receiving a chemical peel, and it is extremely important to stay out of the sun for at least one month after treatment, as new skin will be highly susceptible to sun damage.
Apply sunscreen often. Sunscreen can help protect your skin from ultraviolet rays from the sun and should be applied 30 minutes before exposing your skin to the sun. Avoid the sun when it is hottest, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Protect your legs from sun exposure by wearing lightweight long pants that completely cover your legs.
- Understanding Skin Problems: Acne, Eczema, Psoriasis and Related Conditions; Linda Papadopoulos and Carl Walker; March 2003
- Age Spots: Mayo Clinic