Aging is usually the cause of unwelcome tell-tale signs on your skin, and the sun and sunburn is often the culprit. Age spots are dark brown or black patches that appear on the skin as people get older, and are usually on the most exposed areas: the face, neck, and hands. As they are caused by many years of sun exposure as well as prolonged sunbed use, the age group most likely to suffer is the over 40s. This is because although genetics and becoming older play a role, it is normally the accumulative years of UV light from sun exposure that is the primary culprit. Whilst everyone loves a Mediterranean suntanned look, unfortunately excessive UV light is highly damaging to the skin and affects the DNA of the skin cells.
Melanocytes are skin cells which generate a chemical called melanin which adds colour to the skin and protects it from intense sunshine. Age spots may appear due to a chemical imbalance, or as a result of genetic factors where too much melanin is produced. In most cases however, the spots are due to the sun, and if you have a pale skin, your cells will be more inclined to have them than someone with a darker skin colour. The good news is that they are harmless, and there are a number of solutions.
Treating age spots is not too difficult as they are only present on the top layer of skin. Professional laser and freezing procedures using liquid nitrogen is available from registered practitioners including dermatologists. You need to find a reputable clinic and check the therapist’s credentials, particularly in the case of laser work. There is some discomfort, but it is minimal and well worth it. You may need to attend more than one appointment depending on your individual case. Another more extreme measure that does not just zap the spots, but is applied over the entire face, neck or hands, is chemical peeling. This does however, carry the risk of reactions, and if the type of acid used is too strong, it can result in loss of pigmentation which permanently discolours patches of skin; so a lighter peel, which may have to be applied several times over a period of weeks, carried out by a doctor, is the best course of action. Another full face, neck or hands option, is dermabrasion. This is similar to having sandpaper mechanically applied to your face, and will leave the skin sensitive with abrasive marks afterwards as it will with a chemical peel. Such treatments mean that you will have to avoid the sun and apply a high factor sun cream and possibly wear a hat for a limited period of time.
A common long established home remedy which dates back hundreds of years, is applying lemon juice: it will not get rid of your spots completely, but as it is acidic it may lighten them. Squeeze a lemon and applying some of the juice to a piece of cotton wool twice a day for a few weeks or longer, and monitor any changes. (If your skin is particularly sensitive, you may have to dilute it a little). Buttermilk, which comprises lactic acid, is another popular choice, this can also be applied twice a day for the same period of time.