europa skin care : natural, organic & science-based skin care

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Age spots also called liver spots and solar lentigines

Age spots — also called liver spots and solar lentigines — are flat gray, brown or black spots. They vary in size and usually appear on the face, hands, shoulders and arms — areas most exposed to the sun. 

Though age spots are very common in adults older than age 40, they can affect younger people as well.

True age spots are harmless and don't need treatment, but they can look like cancerous growths. For cosmetic reasons, age spots can be lightened with skin-bleaching products or removed. However, preventing age spots — by avoiding the sun and using sunscreen — may be the easiest way to maintain your skin's youthful appearance and to avoid these dark skin spots.

Age spots typically develop in people with a fair complexion, but they can be seen in those with darker skin.

Age spots:

  • Are flat, oval areas of increased pigmentation
  • Are usually brown, black or gray
  • Occur on skin that has had the most sun exposure over the years, such as the backs of hands, tops of feet, face, shoulders and upper back
  • Age spots range from freckle-size to more than a half inch (1 centimeter) across and can group together, making them more prominent.


You may not like the way they look, but age spots are usually harmless and don't require medical care. However, your doctor should evaluate spots that are dark or have changed in appearance, because these changes can be signs of melanoma, a serious form of skin cancer.

It's best to have any new skin changes evaluated by a doctor, especially if a spot or lesion:

  • Is darkly pigmented
  • Is rapidly increasing in size
  • Has an irregular border
  • Has an unusual combination of colors
  • Is accompanied by itching, redness, tenderness or bleeding

Causes
Age spots are caused primarily by years of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun. The use of commercial tanning lamps and tanning beds can also contribute to the development of age spots.

The pigment in the upper layer of skin (epidermis) that gives your skin its normal color is called melanin. UV light accelerates the production of melanin, creating a tan that helps protect deeper layers of skin from UV rays.

On areas of the skin that have years of frequent and prolonged sun exposure, age spots appear when melanin becomes "clumped" or is produced in particularly high concentrations. In addition to sun exposure, simply becoming older can cause the extra production of melanin.

Your genetic makeup may also play a role in how susceptible you are to the development of age spots.