It’s one of those things you think will never happen to you – and even if it does, it’s so far in the future that you’ll deal with it when it happens. Unfortunately, age spots can appear before you know it (many people over the age of 40 are affected), and require some foresight in terms of skincare if they are to be prevented.
Although unpleasant in appearance, age spots are not harmful to your health. However, considering the importance of clear, unblemished skin to your overall image and self confidence, it is worthwhile making an effort to prevent and remove age spots if they do appear.
What causes age spots?
The main cause for age spots is sun exposure, which is why they usually appear on areas not usually covered by clothing such as the face, neck, hands and arms. The sun-exposed skin produces a pigment called melanin as a natural defence against the sun’s harmful UV – and the body’s natural ageing process then causes cells to generate even more melanin, creating age spots. Genetics also play a role, with some people being genetically predisposed to age spots.
Preventing age spots
The most important step you can take in preventing age spots is to minimise exposure to the sun. Avoid going out during the hottest times of the day (from 10 am to 4 pm), and if you do, make sure to wear protective clothing such as long sleeved shirts, pants and hats.
Another essential step in anti-ageing skin care is the application of sunscreen. Wear sunscreen every day, even when you will be indoors or in a vehicle and during winter. The sun’s rays are present everywhere and in all weather conditions. Pick a sunscreen that has a high SPF rating and apply it on all exposed skin, especially your face and hands.
How to treat age spots
If you find yourself with age spots, there are a variety of treatments to reduce their appearance. Bleaching cream is usually available over the counter and can fade age spots. However, it can take months of application to see an effect and sometimes the skin around the age spot also fades, making the blemishes more noticeable.
Cryotherapy is another option, where liquid nitrogen or a similar chemical is applied to the age spot to destroy the unwanted cells. There is a small risk of permanent scarring with this method.
Dermabrasion scrubs away the top layer of skin so that it is eventually replaced by new skin. Medical grade microdermabrasion is a more gentle and effectual treatment that reduces the appearance of age spots and improves overall skin quality.