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    Filter Diseases & Condition

    Age spots

    • Overview

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      Age spots are small, flat dark areas on the skin that appear on areas exposed to the sun, such as the face, hands, shoulders, and arms. They come in varying sizes and are called sunspots, liver spots, and solar lentigines.

      Although age spots are common in adults aged 50 and above, younger individuals can develop them if they spend time under the sun. It is important to note that age spots may resemble cancerous growths but do not require treatment.

      However, age spots are a sign that the skin has been exposed to a significant amount of sun and are an attempt by the skin to protect itself from further sun damage. For cosmetic reasons, they can be lightened or removed. It is recommended to regularly use sunscreen and avoid spending too much time under the sun to prevent age spots.

    • Symptoms

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      Age spots can affect anyone but are more commonly found in light-skinned adults. These spots are different from freckles, often seen in children and can fade away without sun exposure. Age spots are darker in colour and do not fade away over time.

      Here are some critical characteristics of age spots:

      • They are flat and oval-shaped areas with increased pigmentation.
      • Their colour can range from tan to dark brown.
      • They are most commonly found on skin exposed to the sun for a long time, such as the face, shoulders, upper back, tops of feet, and backs of hands.
      • They can vary from tiny freckles to half an inch (13 millimetres) in diameter.
      • They can appear in clusters, which can make them more noticeable.
    • When to see a doctor

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      If you notice any new skin changes, have a doctor evaluate them, especially if the spot is black, increasing in size, has an irregular border, an unusual combination of colours, or is bleeding. Age spots don’t typically require medical care, but changes in appearance can be signs of melanoma, a severe skin cancer.

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    • Causes

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      Age spots result from overactive pigment cells that are accelerated by exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) light, which increases melanin production. This natural pigment is responsible for skin colour. Age spots appear on skin that has had prolonged exposure to the sun when melanin becomes clumped or produced in high concentrations. Commercial tanning lamps and beds can also cause age spots.

    • Risk factors

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      You might be more likely to develop age spots if you:

      1. Have light skin.
      2. Have a history of frequent or intense sun exposure or sunburn.
    • Prevention

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      If you want to prevent age spots or new spots from appearing after treatment, follow these tips to reduce your exposure to the sun:

      1. Avoid being outside from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. when the sun’s rays are the strongest. Try to plan outdoor activities for other times of the day.
      2. Apply sunscreen generously at least 15 to 30 minutes before going outside. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Reapply every two hours or more often if you’re swimming or sweating.
      3. Wear protective clothing that covers your arms and legs. A broad-brimmed hat provides more protection than a baseball cap or golf visor.
      4. Consider clothing with a UPF of 40 to 50 for maximum protection.
    • *Please note that the information provided in the article is for reference purposes only. It is essential to consult a doctor before applying any of the suggestions mentioned.

    Content Details

    Medical info from Mayo Clinic, for reference only. Visit Hoan My for better advice.

    Last updated on: 14/08/2023