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.

Hair - - The Focal Point -

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.

What?

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.

Why?

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.

Symp­toms

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.

Preven­tion

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.

Cure

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.

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