What are age spots or hyperpigmentation?
They occur as we get older, when the skin’s cells overproduce melanin in some areas but not others, so you usually see patches or ‘spots’ of darker skin. They are sometimes known as liver spots but have nothing to do with the liver.
Perhaps a more fitting name would be sun spots – sun exposure is what causes them in the first place. No matter what you call them, they’re all the same thing: dark patches people get on their skin as they get older.
They are usually brown or black, and they pop up on areas of the skin that are constantly exposed to the sun, like your hands and face. If you are good about protecting your skin from ultraviolet rays, you might be able to prevent them, but if you go out regularly without any sunscreen you will probably develop them early on in life. You may decide you are happy with them and just use make-up to disguise them.
There are a number of things you could do to minimise their appearance or even get rid of them, if you are willing to take undergo a course of treatments. They only affect the outermost layer of your skin, so there are several treatment options available to get rid of them. Think about it like spilling coffee on a pad of paper – if you remove enough pieces of paper, you can get rid of the stain and the pad will once more look brand-new.
Treatments that get rid of age spots work in a similar fashion – they involve everything from freezing the top layer of your skin to getting underneath it with a laser. There are also a few homemade treatments you can try. Either way, you don’t have to live with age spots unless you want to.
1. Chemical Peel – this involves an acid peel to remove the surface layer of the skin. It may take several sessions before the age spots disappear completely.
2. Dermabrasion – this works in a similar way, removing the surface layer of skin, a little bit like sandpaper on your face. This could cause redness.
3. Laser – this is quite an intense treatment as it destroys the cells that produce the melanin in the area which has hyperpigmentation. You may need several treatments to see results.
4. Home remedy – Lemon juice has been shown to help fade the appearance of age spots. Simply dab fresh lemon juice directly onto the spots twice daily and you should begin to notice improvements in about two months. Leave the juice on the skin for at least 30 minutes, or as long as you are comfortable with it. You can also leave the juice on the skin overnight.
5. Cosmetic product – regular exfoliation, a lightening serum and excellent broad spectrum sunscreen will bring results but over a longer period. You will need to wait 30 to 60 days depending on your age, so that a full cycle of skin cell renewal can occur.
Please note that none of the above options of treatment will work, unless you use sufficient sun protection. Age spots WILL return once the skin is exposed to the sun unless you protect!