Dealing with Age Spots
It is not uncommon for adults to notice an increasing number of spots on the skin as they get older. Because these isolated or clustered discolorations seem to expand exponentially with age, we often refer to them as age spots. They have also been called liver spots (because it was once falsely believed that they were related to liver problems). In truth, most of the discolored patches we see on the skin are caused by sun exposure. For that reason, they are more commonly and accurately referred to as sun spots. Regardless of what we call them, spots on the skin are problematic. There are two parts to treating these, prevention of new ones and removal of those you already have. We’ll discuss those here.
Before we attempt to remove existing sun spots, you need to take steps to prevent more from forming. The primary means of prevention is use of sunblock. Since the damage is caused by UVA that is present and the same strength all day every day, and at every latitude. Although there are multiple sunblock ingredients available but the only one that is practical is zinc oxide. It is a physical sunblock and lasts after application until it is rubbed or washed off. The rest are chemical sunscreens and last only about an hour outdoors or two hours inside.
Treatment of Sun Spots:
The first step in treating sunspots is evaluation of the spots to make sure they are all benign. After they are confirmed benign and only a cosmetic problem, there are several strategies to lighten them.
- Interestingly, though sun spots are caused by UV light, one of the best ways to correct them is with light. IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) a laser like device, which we offer in our office, can target the excess melanin in sun spots and break it down into tiny particles. The body can then process and eliminate them, thereby lightening the discoloration. This usually takes several treatments. Because this method is temporary, you will need to repeat it in a year or so
- The other treatment is use of skin care. There are a number of products that can fade the spots but, by far, the most effective is hydroquinone. This is relatively effective when used by itself. However, it becomes exceptionally effective when combined in the Obagi Nu-Derm System. This not only corrects the spots but keeps them from coming back.
Sun spots age the skin. We can help you live without them. Contact our office at (828) 526-3783 to schedule your appointment for sun spot treatment.