Age spots — also called liver spots are flat tan, brown or black spots. They vary in size and usually appear on the face, hands, shoulders and arms — areas most exposed to the sun. They have nothing to do with the liver or liver function.
Age spots are very common in adults older than age 40. But, younger people can get them too, especially if they spend a lot of time in the sun.
Although age spots can look like cancerous growths, true age spots are harmless and don’t need treatment. For cosmetic reasons, age spots can be lightened with skin-bleaching products or removed.
Age spots are caused primarily by years of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun. The use of commercial tanning lamps and tanning beds can also contribute to the development of age spots.
The pigment in the upper layer of skin (epidermis) that gives your skin its normal color is called melanin. UV light accelerates the production of melanin, creating a tan that helps protect deeper layers of skin from UV rays.
On areas of the skin that have years of frequent and prolonged sun exposure, age spots appear when melanin becomes “clumped” or is produced in particularly high concentrations.
Age spots typically develop in people with a fair complexion, but they can be seen in those with darker skin. Age spots:
- Are flat, oval areas of increased pigmentation
- Are usually tan, brown or black
- Occur on skin that has had the most sun exposure over the years, such as the backs of hands, tops of feet, face, shoulders and upper back
Protect your skin from the sun by taking the following steps:
- Cover your skin with clothing such as hats, long-sleeved shirts, long skirts, or pants.
- Use sunglasses to protect your eyes.
- Try to avoid the sun at midday, when sunlight is strongest.
- Use high-quality sunscreens that have an SPF rating of at least 30. Apply sunscreen at least a half hour before you go out in the sun. Reapply it often. Use sunscreen in the winter, too.
- A simple blend of Lavender, Orange and Tea tree oils if applied thrice daily also helps fade out the liver spots quite effectively.