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Age spots, or liver spots, are brown spots that can appear anywhere on the body. They are often found on the hands and face, and though they are not truly associated with aging, though they do often appear later in life. In reality, age spots are a form of sun damage, and are caused by spending too much time in the sun without proper application of sunscreen. It is difficult to remove the spots completely, but it may be possible to fade age spots.
One way to fade age spots is to topically apply a cream designed to lighten the skin. Lightening creams typically contain hydroquinone as an active ingredient, generally two percent or less in the cream. Hydroquinone has been shown to lighten the skin, though there are some questions about its safety, and it should generally only be used as needed.
When using a lightening cream containing hydroquinone to fade age spots, it is important to carefully put the cream only on the age spot and not on the surrounding skin. If you put it on the skin around the age spot, this skin can actually fade, making the age spot stand out even more than it originally did. Some people choose to instead try products found around the home; lemon juice, red onion, and nutgrass root are three items that are often recommended to fade age spots. It is generally just necessary to apply these directly to the skin, and they will then slough off any dead skin cells.
A dermatologist may be able to offer other options to fade age spots. These may include chemical peels or laser resurfacing. Keep in mind that once age spots appear, they may be extremely difficult to get rid of; some may be permanent. It is far better and easier to prevent them by wearing sunscreen every day, and reapplying often when spending time in the sun. Sunscreen may also prevent other skin damage, from wrinkles to skin cancer.
It is also important to be sure that what you are trying to get rid of is actually an age spot. Age spots typically resemble large, flat freckles, and are light brown in color. If the spot appears suddenly, however, has an irregular border or appears scaly, it is important to visit a doctor as soon as possible to rule out skin cancer. Skin cancer, particularly melanoma, can easily resemble age spots, and it is always better to ask a doctor to be certain.
Age spots on your face, shoulders, hands and the top of your feet are very common if you have lived in the sunlight for many years without covering up your skin.
Once you've had treatment from a dermatologist or other skin specialist, don't keep repeating your mistakes. Once you've had laser treatments or micro-dermabrasion to remove sun spots, don't forget to protect your skin from now on.
Whether you wear large-brimmed hats or solar protective clothing or you stay out of the sun between 10 - 4, you have to make a concerted effort to care for your skin. You can still enjoy the sun but you have to be smart about it.
Both my grandmother and mom have terrible age spots on their face and hands, and they have tried just about every treatment under the sun to get rid of them. Some have worked better than others, but they both still have pretty visible spots.
I think it's because they were both so into tanning when they were younger. Well, not me! I always wear sunblock when I go out, and never go tanning, or, as my mom calls it, "laying out." I'm not taking my chances with skin cancer!
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