Spot the Difference: The Causes of Age Spots Plus How to Prevent Them

Spot the Difference: The Causes of Age Spots Plus How to Prevent Them

What Are Age Spots?

Age spots are flat brown, black, or gray spots that appear on the skin. Age spots typically appear on areas that have been exposed to the sun, like your face or the backs of your hands. They’re also sometimes referred to as liver spots, but don’t worry, they have nothing to do with your liver or liver function. 

Who Typically Gets Age Spots?

Age spots can begin developing at an early age, however they’re most commonly seen in middle to older age groups (typically 40-50 years old and above). Age spots tend to be most common in those who’ve experienced heightened sun exposure. You also may be more likely to develop age spots if you have light or fair skin. 

What Causes Age Spots?

Age spots are typically the result of an excess production of melanin, which is your skin’s natural pigment. Age spots appear when melanin is produced in high concentrations and becomes clumped in the skin. 

Research has determined that excess ultraviolet (UV) exposure is a common contributor to the formation of age spots over time. This is why age spots typically develop in sun-exposed areas such as the face, forearms, upper back, and hands. 

How Can I Prevent Age Spots?

Age spots are not always entirely preventable, however, there are steps you can take to reduce their development. One of the best things you can do is make sure to wear and reapply sunscreen - even on days when you’re mostly spending time indoors. Sunscreens with an SPF of 30+, that contain both UVA and UVA protection, will provide your skin with the most protection. It's also important to avoid tanning beds or other practices that involve heightened, unprotected UV exposure. 

Age spots are a natural part of your skin’s aging process. However, if you find yourself questioning if what’s on your skin is an age spot or something more, it’s always best to consult with a dermatologist or healthcare professional for further guidance and treatment options. 

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Healthline: Everything You Need to Know About Age Spots | Mayo Clinic: Age Spots (Liver Spots) | American Society for Dermatologic Surgery: Age Spots | Cleveland Clinic: How to Get Rid of Age Spots (or Liver Spots) and Avoid More

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