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Age Spots (liver spots); by MotherNature
Topic Started: Mar 14 2011, 11:04 PM (145 Views)

Talk about a spotty reputation! Heck, most people can't agree on what to call these unappealing but otherwise harmless dark spots that usually occur on the forehead and the back of the hands and arms.

Some folks think age spots are caused by old age--an understandable mistake, since the spots are extremely common after age 55 and rarely appear before middle age. Others know them as liver spots.

The appearance of these dark, blotchy spots can be scary-resembling the early forms of skin cancer to the untrained eye. But genuine age spots are really nothing more than "adult freckles" that result from overexposure to the sun. (However, if you notice an increase in size or "bizarre" color changes, see your doctor immediately.)

"Age spots should really be called sun spots, because they are caused by being out in the sun," says D'Anne Kleinsmith, M.D., a cosmetic dermatologist at William Beaumont Hospital near Detroit. "They have absolutely nothing to do with your liver and little to do with your age, other than the fact that they usually occur on older people."

Still, they are unbecoming. Sometimes they may be raised and look like tiny moles. Usually, though, they're just like dark, smooth freckles. If you've had them, you've probably noticed that they seem to appear suddenly on sun-exposed skin areas (usually areas not protected with sunscreen). So here's what to do about liver spots ... er, age sp ... uh, lentigines (their medical name).

Get help from hydroquinone. This safe "lightening agent" is found in products such as Porcelana and Esoterica that you can obtain without a prescription. Hydroquinone helps lighten age spots until they become unnoticeable. "Dab it on the individual spots with a cotton ball," says Dr. Kleinsmith.

But don't expect overnight success: This therapy usually takes a month or two before you see any results. Follow the directions on the package and try to dab the medication right on the spots, so you don't "bleach" the pigment in nonaffected skin.

Shed away "spotted" skin. Lac-Hydrin Five lotion, another nonprescription remedy, contains lactic acid. "The acid can help bleaching agents work faster by enhancing the normal shedding of upper, 'dead' skin layers," says Michael Ramsey, M.D., clinical instructor of dermatology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. This leaves a lighter layer of skin underneath.

Reach for lemon aid. "The juice of a fresh lemon is acidic enough to safely peel off the upper layer of skin, which will remove or lighten some age spots," says Jerome Z. Litt, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland. "Rub it on with a cotton ball twice daily where the age spots are, and in six to eight weeks, they should begin to fade away."

How about an onion rub? Rubbing a piece of sliced red onion on age spots can have the same fading effect, "since it has the same peeling acid as fresh lemon juice," adds Dr. Litt.

Use castor oil for smooth relief. "If the surface of individual lesions appears rougher than surrounding skin--which often occurs with age spots--applying castor oil twice daily with a cotton swab will sometimes bring about improvement, says Dr. Ramsey. On larger lesions, a bandage applied with the castor oil at nighttime may speed improvement.

Be a shady character. "Since age spots are caused by excessive sun exposure, avoid the sun and you'll avoid age spots," suggests Albert M. Kligman, M.D., Ph.D., professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia. "You will never see an age spot on someone who stays in the shade." If you already have age spots, limiting sun exposure will help prevent them from darkening and will minimize a recurrence or the appearance of new ones.

Cover 'em up. If all else fails in trying to remedy them, hide them. "Many types of makeup can cover the spots," says Edward Bondi, M.D., a dermatologist who is affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, "If they are really dark spots, a heavier-based makeup will work, but if they're not so bad, then many water-based types will do the trick. A product called Covermark has routinely been used to hide age spots." Note: If you suffer from acne, avoid heavier oil-based makeups, because they can worsen blemishes.

-- from MotherNature
Edited by Penny31, Mar 14 2011, 11:05 PM.
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