Have you noticed that your skin has developed brown spots in recent months? Do they itch or is the surrounding area tender? Do you notice a gradual increase in size? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should see a dermatologist. While your spots could simply be age spots that have developed due to frequent, prolonged sun exposure, they could also be something more serious, especially if the spots enlarge rapidly, bleed, or become unusual colors.
Whether your brown spots are harmless or serious, contact West Dermatology to make sure by calling 888-554-8740 or filling out our online contact form. Our world-class staff of medical and cosmetic dermatologists specializes in a variety of skin conditions, with expert diagnoses, recommendations, and treatments that can help you look your best today.
What are Brown Age Spots?
Brown age spots are known by other names — liver spots, sun spots, or (medically) solar lentigines — and are not always brown; they can also be tan or black. Generally, they are flat, can differ in size, and appear on the hands, face, arms, and shoulders – or anywhere else that you commonly expose to the sun.
There are virtually no medical reasons to undergo treatment, even if your spots are mistaken for cancerous growths. However, many people do have treatment for cosmetic reasons. Probably the easiest, best method to maintain your beautiful flawless skin, however, is outright prevention of these spots by avoiding the sun or using sunscreen while in the sun.
What Causes Age Spots?
Age spots are common in people above the age of 40, leading many to believe that these spots develop because of aging skin. However, it’s not uncommon for younger people to get them, as well. This is because age spots develop primarily due to years of exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, and indoor tanning makes them MUCH worse.
In the top layer of your skin is a pigment called melanin, which gives you your normal skin color. When you’re exposed to UV rays from any source, it speeds up your body’s production of melanin and darkens your skin. The resulting tan tries to shield the deeper layers of your skin from UV light damage. Over years of exposure, however, so much melanin is produced that they clump together to form your brown age spots.
Brown Age Spots Symptoms
Anyone of any age or skin type can develop age spots, but you’re more likely to develop them if your skin is fair or light-toned, you have a history of sunburns, or you’ve spent a lot of time in the sun or sun-tanning machines throughout your life.
You may have age spots if on your skin are flat, oval areas that are darker than the surrounding skin, especially if they develop in areas that have had the most sun exposure during your life – typically, these include your face, shoulders, arms, upper back, the tops of your feet, and the backs of your hands. Although age spots can be as small as a freckle or wider than a half inch across, they can be of any size, often aggregating into unsightly, clearly visible larger spots.
Brown Age Spots Treatment
Prescription-strength hydroquinone or other skin-bleaching creams can be effective. Often, these are used in conjunction with retinoids and/or a mild steroid, which often results in faded, less noticeable spots after several months. Side effects of these treatments include mild skin irritation, dryness, itching, or burning.
Laser or Intense Pulsed Light
These light therapies destroy melanocytes, the skin cells that produce melanin, but do not harm the surface of your skin. Several sessions of light therapy are recommended to reduce or eliminate your age spots. Side effects from the dermatology treatment include tender skin and/or temporary, slight skin discoloration.
Liquid nitrogen or some other freezing agent is applied to your brown age spots to destroy excess pigment, lightening the area as the skin heals. Skin irritation, scarring, and/or discoloration are common, temporary side effects.
A chemical solution burns away the surface of your skin, after which it peels, leaving behind new skin to take its place. Usually, results aren’t noticeable until after several sessions. Side effects of this procedure include tender skin and irritation, so avoid the sun while you heal.
To learn more about age spots treatment, visit WebMD.com.
Bothered by Brown Age Spots? West Dermatology/Cosmetic Laser Dermatology Can Help
Don’t ignore your brown age spots. Make sure that’s all they are – age spots – because other conditions that have resulted in these spots can pose serious health risks. Contact West Dermatology/Cosmetic Laser Dermatology today for a consultation to get an expert diagnosis of your skin condition, as well as customized options designed for your specific case.
Next, read about Bullous Pemphigoid.