Sun Spots (Age Spots)
Sun spots (age spots), also known as lentigines, are harmless, flat, brown discolorations of the skin which usually occur on the back of the hands, neck and face of people older than 40 years of age. These spots more than anything else, give away a person's age. Sun spots are caused by the skin being exposed to the sun over many years. If you do not believe that these brown, ugly marks on the back of your hands and face are caused by sunlight, look at the skin on your inner thigh. You will see that the skin of the inner thigh is completely devoid of age spots. Sun spots are harmless and do not need to be treated unless they are changing or getting bigger than the surrounding sun spots.
- The only way to prevent age spots is to use liberal amounts of sunscreen before the age of forty, avoid the sun, and wear protective clothing. These measures will also help prevent the formation of skin cancer and wrinkles.
- The newest treatment for age spots is alpha hydroxy acid gel. The gel is applied to the spots each night. This will lighten discoloration of the skin such as freckles, age spots and pigmentation that may occur in pregnancy or from the use of oral contraceptives.
- Another treatment for age spots is Retin-A. Retin-A cream is applied to the spots once a day for six months. This will cause lightening of large age spots and will make small ones disappear.
- Age spots can also be treated with a chemical peel. This involves applying a mild acid to the skin and then allowing the skin to heal. Chemical peels work best in people with blue eyes and light hair, but can be effective in all skin types. This is the second fastest way to get rid of age spots.
- Liquid nitrogen therapy is the quickest way to get rid of age spots. Liquid nitrogen is air that is so cold that it is in liquid form (-321ºF). The esthetician sprays the liquid nitrogen onto the age spot and this causes the mark to turn white a month or so after treatment. When liquid nitrogen is sprayed onto the skin, it can sting and may cause a permanent white spot or scar.