What causes age spots?
Skin changes are a fact of life for most people. Your skin is the protective barrier that shields your internal organs and bones from harm, including solar damage. In the process, the skin itself gets damaged.
One symptom of skin damage is dark spots on the skin. These are sometimes called age spots. Small patches of skin take on a darker tint than the surrounding skin. The causes are usually post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, hormonal changes, and sun exposure.
Most dark spots are harmless, though you may not like the way they look. There are many products that you can get from the store or a doctor that will lighten dark spots. If you try an all-natural method, you can use ingredients from your own kitchen.
Learn more about age spots, what to do about them, and what natural ingredients you can use.
The dark spots that appear on your hands and face are the result of deposits of extra melanin. Melanin is a naturally occurring chemical that gives skin its color. When you produce extra melanin in one particular spot, the skin in that area will look darker than the skin around it.
Your skin can overproduce melanin in response to injury or irritation. Acne, insect bites, or psoriasis can all trigger post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. After the irritation heals, you may notice a dark or rough spot left behind. These usually fade with time.
Dark spots due to sun exposure are very common. The age spots on your face, arms, and hands are often the result of time in the sun. They can get darker over time, particularly if you continue to get sun exposure.
Treating age spots
You can speed up the process of fading age spots by exfoliating the skin. Removing the top layers will brighten the overall appearance of the skin. It will also speed cell turnover. The darkened cells will naturally slough off, and lighter skin will replace them.
You can exfoliate using natural ingredients such as alpha-hydroxy acids. These acids, including glycolic acid, lactic acid, and citric acid, are often listed as active ingredients in skincare products. They’re known for their ability to exfoliate and clean skin.
Alpha hydroxy acids are found in common foods such as fruit, sour milk or yogurt, or sugarcane. You can harness the exfoliating power of these foods by applying them as skin treatments:
Mix apple cider vinegar with water and dab it on the dark spot. Rinse after 15 minutes.
Dab lemon juice or grapefruit juice on dark spots and leave on for 15 minutes. You can mix the juice with water if your skin is sensitive.
Add a small amount of citrus juice or cider vinegar to a homemade sugar scrub. Mix the liquid with a handful of brown sugar and a few drops of oil such as sunflower oil. Scrub your face gently, then rinse.
Unsweetened yogurt can be a soothing mask for your face, as well as potentially helping face age spots. You can mix it with honey for anti-inflammatory effects.
These treatments will all take many weeks to show effects. Skin turnover takes time. You can expect to see fading in 3-6 months.
If DIY skincare doesn’t give you the results you want, you can try over-the-counter products. Look for ingredients that are known to help with hyperpigmentation, inducing:
- Azelaic acid
- Glycolic acid
- Kojic acid
- Vitamin C
If the over-the-counter formulations aren’t effective, a dermatologist can give you prescription-strength creams containing hydroquinone or tretinoin. You can also discuss non-invasive skincare procedures that fade age spots more quickly than creams and lotions. Microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and laser treatments are all effective at fading age spots on skin.
In some cases, dark spots are a sign of skin cancer. If you have a dark spot that is raised, has an irregular shape, or changes rapidly, contact your doctor immediately. Skin cancer is easiest to treat when it is caught early.
Once you have faded any dark spots you already have, you can take steps to prevent them from coming back. Using sunscreen will protect your skin from future sun damage. Protective clothing, wide-brimmed hats, and staying in the shade will also keep your skin safe from sun damage.
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Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American Academy of Dermatology Association: "HOW TO FADE DARK SPOTS IN SKIN OF COLOR." "HOW TO SAFELY EXFOLIATE AT HOME." "WHAT CAN GET RID OF AGE SPOTS?"
American Cancer Society: "Skin Cancer."
American Osteopathic College of Dermatology: "HYPERPIGMENTATION."
Dermatocare: "HOMEMADE SCRUB: DIY BY DERMATOLOGIST."
Green, Dr. Michele M.D.: "How To Remove Age Spots Naturally."
Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology: "Honey in dermatology and skincare: a review."
Molecules: "Dual Effects of Alpha-Hydroxy Acids on the Skin."
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