Deal­ing with age spots

The Sun (Malaysia) - - BEAUTY - BY SABINE MEUTER, DPA

THE face, hands, the neck – your skin is ex­posed to the sun nearly ev­ery day. In the long term this can cause flat and light brown to black pig­ments to ap­pear, also known as age spots.

“In gen­eral they are not dan­ger­ous,” says der­ma­tol­o­gist Chris­tian Raulin. How­ever, they can be­come can­cer­ous over time.

“Like any other skin im­per­fec­tions, age spots should be ex­am­ined by a spe­cial­ist as part of a rou­tine check-up,” says Raulin, who is also a mem­ber of the Pro­fes­sional As­so­ci­a­tion of Ger­man Der­ma­tol­o­gists.

The top layer of skin can un­dergo per­ma­nent changes that last a life­time. New cells form in the lower lay­ers, mov­ing up and get­ting rid of older cells.

This means the skin com­pletely re­ju­ve­nates around ev­ery four weeks. “How­ever, this process isn’t al­ways 100% per­fect, and spots and marks can oc­cur,” ex­plains Raulin.

Harm­ful sun rays are of­ten the cause for this, as well as a pos­si­ble ge­netic pre­dis­po­si­tion to age spots. “Peo­ple with lighter skin have a higher chance of de­vel­op­ing age spots,” ex­plains phar­ma­cist Ur­sula Seller­berg from the Ger­man Fed­eral Cham­ber of Phar­ma­cists.

Younger women who take the con­tra­cep­tive pill can also ex­peri- ence skin dis­coloura­tion if they re­ceive ex­ces­sive ex­po­sure to the sun.

Age spots are less no­tice­able than birth­marks or moles. Like freck­les, they are be­nign and doc­tors say you don’t have to do any­thing against them – at least once cancer has been ruled out by a spe­cial­ist.

Age spots can also be cov­ered up for cos­metic rea­sons. “Cam­ou­flage make-up is a good choice as it cov­ers up skin im­per­fec­tions,” ex­plains Monika Fer­di­nand from the Ger­man as­so­ci­a­tion of beau­ti­cians.

How­ever, us­ing make-up to cover up age spots is not al­ways prac­ti­cal, es­pe­cially if they start ap­pear­ing on the back of the hand, for ex­am­ple.

There are al­ter­na­tive meth­ods as well. “Pre­scrip­tion bleach­ing creams can help,” says Seller­berg. These creams con­tain sub­stances such as hy­dro­quinone that lighten the spots. How­ever, bleach­ing creams can ir­ri­tate the skin, in which case you should stop us­ing them.

Chem­i­cal peels, which al­low the skin to re­gen­er­ate, are an al­ter­na­tive to bleach­ing creams. Peels should be car­ried out by ex­pe­ri­enced pro­fes­sion­als, oth­er­wise there could be a risk of scar­ring.

“The most ef­fec­tive method to re­move age spots is laser treat­ment car­ried out by a spe­cialised der­ma­tol­o­gist,” says Raulin.

Pig­ments in the skin are de­stroyed by strong en­ergy pulses. As the laser can not dis­tin­guish be­tween dif­fer­ent shades of brown, the sur­round­ing skin must not be tanned.

There is no guar­an­tee that laser treat­ment can get rid of age spots com­pletely. The best pre­ven­tion is pro­tect­ing your­self and your skin from the sun with a men­tal­ity that starts in child­hood, says Fer­di­nand. – dpa

The most ef­fec­tive method to re­move age spots is laser treat­ment car­ried out by a spe­cialised der­ma­tol­o­gist. But be­fore they are treated, they should be care­fully ex­am­ined.

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