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Age Spots: Causes and Prevention

By Rick Cohen, 9:00 am on

Age spots, also known as liver spots, are one of the many changes to the skin that come with age. While most are harmless, understanding the causes, prevention, treatment, and—most importantly—signs of an abnormal spot, will help you help your aging relative remain healthy. Here’s what both seniors and caregivers need to know about age spots, presented by Milwaukee Home Care Assistance.

Causes

Age spots are caused by years of exposure to UV light from the sun or tanning beds. Sunlight accelerates the production of melanin, a pigment in the epidermis that gives skin its color. After years of prolonged exposure to the sun, older adults will eventually notice these spots on the hands, arms, and face where melanin has been produced in a high concentration. 

Age Spots vs Melanoma

Age spots are flat black, brown, or tan spots that can resemble melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer. While most age spots are harmless, it’s important to have any new spots checked by a dermatologist to make sure they’re not cancerous. This is particularly important if the age spot exhibits any of the following:  

  • Asymmetry
  • An irregular border
  • Multiple colors
  • Large diameter (greater than a pencil eraser)
  • Changes like bleeding or itching

Prevention

While it’s not always possible to prevent liver spots from developing, the best way to reduce the chances of these spots is avoiding the sun between 10am and 3pm and never leaving the house without sunscreen. Wear sunscreen daily and reapply every two hours.

Treatment

There are a few treatments that can reduce or eliminate the appearance of age spots.

  • Prescription bleaching cream will fade the age spots over a period of months. Bleaching creams make skin more sensitive to UV damage, so it’s important to wear sunscreen and avoid sunlight while using them. 
  • Laser treatments can destroy the melanin-producing cells in the skin to fade the dark spots.
  • Chemical peels can burn away the outer layer of the skin to allow new, younger-looking skin to grow in its place.
  • Dermabrasion can also work by sanding off the outer layers of the skin.
  • Cryosurgery can be used to freeze the spots with liquid nitrogen. 

Learn more about senior health and wellness from Home Care Assistance. As a leading provider of senior care, including specialized Alzheimer’s and dementia care in Milwaukee, we make senior wellbeing our top priority. Call a dedicated Care Manager at (414) 964-8000 to learn more about our care services, flexible care schedule, and satisfaction guarantee.

Understanding Age Spots: Causes and Prevention