Hit the spot!
With pollution, over exposure to the sun and inconsistent skincare regimes, age spots have become a worrying skin menace. Dr Apratim Goel tells you how to keep those dreaded blemishes away.
Flawless skin — the two magic words that dominate the minds of most of us every time we look into the mirror. So, when those dark spots make an unwelcome appearance, they surely break many a heart.
Sun spots or age spots (since they appear at a later age, sun spots are also called age spots) is the discolouration or formation of dark spots on the skin due to pigmentation and over exposure to sun. These spots generally occur on parts that are directly exposed to the sun. They are also called liver spots or senile spots.
Over exposure to sunrays causes sunburns and pigmentation giving way to dark patches on the skin. Though people of any age, sex or race can develop age spots, they are more common in people in the following groups — those older than 40 years, fair-skinned people, those whose jobs demand field work and frequent exposure to the sun, and people who use the tanning bed frequently.
Age spots are usually painless and harmless and are mostly a cosmetic concern. If you experience burning or stinging after sun exposure, age spots can appear later in those areas. They are usually of the same texture as the rest of the skin. These spots are not always permanent and vanish on their own, but some may stay. At times, the dermatologist might conduct a biopsy to rule out cancer or other skin disorders.
Protection from sun remains the most important preventive measure. Hats, scarfs, umbrella, loose clothing and most importantly, sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher is very important. Oral supplements containing antioxidants such as glutathione and vitamin C are helpful, too.
Thanks to rapidly advancing science, there are many treatment options available now for age spots: Topical medications containing hydroquinone, tretinoin, vitamin C, kojic acid, azelaic acid etc. Microdermabrasion or chemical peeling of the skin. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and Nd:YAG laser treatment have been proven to be effective on age spots.