What Causes Age Spots?

Posted on February 14, 2012 with No Comments

What causes age spots? The cause of spotting, discoloration and dark spots can be explained by the assaults on skin from the natural elements, like the cumulative effect of sun exposure. The sun causes the increase in melanocytes in the skin, therefore darkening the skin tone. In general, this darkening is temporary and when removed from sun exposure, these melanocytes disappear and the suntan begins to fade. As people age, repair systems in the body do not perform at their optimum any longer. Some brown spots are left behind on sun exposed areas. The sun is not alone in getting the blame for age spots. The same damage you get from the sun, you can also get from tanning beds or tanning lamps.

Age Spots on Hands

Age Spots on Hands

Why Do People Get Age Spots?

This focuses more on the aging process itself. The older the body gets, the more work it had to do over the lifetime of the person to keep him healthy. This means that when potentially harmful material enters the body, lysosomes ingest the offending substances. This phagocytosis produces left-over “garbage” of brown pigmented, lipid-laden granules called lipofuscin. In itself, lipofuscin does no harm. It is only evidence of increased free radical formation in the body and decreased enzymatic action to neutralize the free radicals.  With less neutralization of free radicals, there is less repair of sun damage and the affected skin has parts where melanocytes are permanently anchored.

Who Gets Age Spots?

Generally people over the age of forty are the ones to get these age spots, or liver spots as they used to be called. This was a misnomer, since the spots have no connection at all to the liver. The proper name for this condition is solar lentigo.  Solar lentigines are mostly found on those body parts that are exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. This makes sense, since the exposed areas are where the melanocytes are and where repair is necessary.

Are Age Spots Harmful?

The age spots themselves are not harmful at all. They are just a side effect of aging and can be treated with bleaching or whitening skin care products, with procedures and treatments or can be left alone and accepted.  Actually, the agent of what causes age spots, the sun, is the harmful influence. The only problem in the presence of age spots is a cosmetic one. Ladies especially, like to have unblemished, even skin tones. Solar lentigines give a spotted look no one wants. These spots can be on the face, arms and hands. Sometimes they are present on legs as well. The back of the hands, arms and the face is where the most efforts to have them removed are concentrated.

Is There A Treatment For Age Spots?

Age Spots on the Face

Age Spots on the Face

In order to lighten age spots to make them faint enough to be hardly noticeable, age spot creams to bleach the affected area are available with a prescription. This is a time consuming process. It takes months to get the desired results. While under this treatment, skin must be protected with sun block since bleaching creams make the skin even more vulnerable to UV rays. Dermabrasions and chemical peels focus on removing the upper layer of the epidermis. This process includes removing the entire layer of skin along with the pigmented portions. It is a procedure that leaves the skin red and tender until a new skin layer grows. More expensive treatment possibilities are laser treatment and cryotherapy.

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