Aging is inevitable, but do we really have to be reminded of it every time we look into the mirror? One of the most common physical signs of aging is age spots. Age spots, sometimes called liver spots, are a major source of insecurity for many people.
Therefore, we here at WOW Skin Science have decided to create a guide that can successfully treat your age spots. We will be explaining what age spots are and how they are formed, as well as providing you with different methods for minimizing the appearance of age spots and keeping them from coming back.
Table of Contents:
- What Are Age Spots?
- How Can I Get Rid of Age Spots?
- TCA Peel
- Essential Oils
What Are Age Spots?
Age spots most commonly affect people who spend a lot of time in the sun or are over 50, though they can begin to appear in a person’s 30s. Your chances of developing age spots are increased if you have fairer skin.
The primary driver of these age spots is lifetime exposure to ultraviolet radiation, usually from the sun. Age spots are due to an overactive clone of melanocytes which are the cells in the skin that make pigment.
Age spots are small, flat spots that are blackish or brownish. These spots are most commonly located on the face though they can also appear on your hands, shoulders, arms, and other areas of your body that are often exposed to sunlight. Though age spots vary, they most commonly measure around 2mm to 3mm.
Another type of age spot that also starts arising during this period is seborrheic keratosis. This can happen within a sunspot or outside of a sunspot. Unlike sunspots, this type of age spot sits on the top of the skin. It starts flat, and with time, it can become raised above the level of your skin while sun spots remain within the skin itself.
Age spots should not be confused with cancerous growths, though the two have similar appearances. If you notice that a spot on your skin has an unusual border, is changing in size, is black or a combination of different colors, or is bleeding, you should seek advice from a medical professional.
How Can I Get Rid of Age Spots?
Unlike cancerous growths, age spots are generally nothing to fear in the sense that they do not have any negative effects on your health. If you develop a large number of age spots, however, it can indicate the extent of sun damage you are amassing.
All this being said, many people seek ways to get rid of their age spots for cosmetic purposes. Here are some of the top treatment options for age spots.
Cryotherapy works because it uses liquid nitrogen that is extremely cold and selectively destroys that clone of abnormal melanocytes responsible for producing the brown spots on your skin.
The treatment can cause discomfort, though it is sure to be short lasting. The day after treatment, the lesions typically crust over and can be red and tender, but the recovery from this is very quick.
Cryotherapy is advantageous because, as far as treatment options go, it is generally considered inexpensive. Cryotherapy also allows for treating numerous lesions in a short amount of time.
Before rushing to receive cryotherapy, note that there are some risks. In certain cases, cryotherapy can cause scarring and hypopigmentation meaning that there will be spots of your skin lightened if the treatment is done too aggressively. For this reason, we advise you to receive your treatment from a board-certified dermatologist to minimize the chance of any negative outcome.
TCA stands for trichloroacetic acid. TCA peels are one of many chemical peels designed to smooth the surface of a person’s skin by removing dead skin.
The way this peel works is that the reagent trichloroacetic acid precipitates proteins causing selective destruction. Once it precipitates the proteins of those skin lesions, they die and then slough off. This is a good treatment for fading the appearance of age spots and smoothing out seborrheic keratosis that may be lingering on your skin.
Potential complications from applying a TCA solution include changes in skin color, scarring, a bacterial infection, and the reactivation of herpes. Proper application of the TCA solution will decrease any chances of unwanted side effects.
The day after your treatment, you can expect some crusting and tenderness. Like cryotherapy, TCA peels have a fairly quick recovery time spanning 7 to 14 days.
Though generally effective at smoothing the skin, TCA peels do not typically last as long as other chemical peels. You may be required to undergo multiple applications of the solution to see progress and maintain your desired results.
Though lasers are a popular option for treating age spots, they are also amongst the most expensive. One of the biggest benefits of laser treatments is that they allow for the selective destruction of lesions based on targeting specific problematic cells.
In the case of age spots, the target is going to be the clone of abnormal melanocytes. This is known as selective photothermolysis. They selectively kill off the clone of cells that makes that unwanted pigment appears on your skin so that it will not come back. If you do not kill off the clone, you may fade the discoloration, but that spot can come back with future sun exposure.
Lasers can be used on age spots, sun spots, solar keratosis, and seborrheic keratosis. Laser treatments must be performed with extreme care because there is the possibility that it can end up damaging the surrounding tissue if the wrong laser, setting, or pulse duration is used. This is especially risky in deeper skin tones.
First things first, lightening creams are not capable of “curing” your age spots.
In reality, these products do not heal your age spots because they do nothing to eliminate the clone of cells causing your age spots to begin with. Therefore, the spots can come back with future sun exposure. Still, lightening creams are useful for reducing the appearance of these spots by fading the discoloration.
Hydroquinone, a prescribed topical bleaching agent, is especially effective at lightening the age spots on your skin. It is sometimes prescribed before or after other treatments to reduce the chances of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Alone, hydroquinone might not be the answer you are looking for, but it certainly is an option for improving the appearance of your age spots. You will likely reap the desired results when used in conjunction with other treatments.
Note that you should not use hydroquinone indefinitely because there is a risk of skin bleaching or the worsening of your hyperpigmentation. On some skin types, hydroquinone may also be irritating, putting you at risk for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Similar to hydroquinone, though essential oils are not necessarily a cure for your age spots, they can be supportive in helping to minimize and soften physical signs of aging. However, the difference between hydroquinone and essential oils is that essential oils are a holistic choice. Essential oils are naturally extracted from plant species and are made of 100% all-natural substances.
One method for treating your age spots via essential oils is by streaming. Simply boil some water, pour it into a bowl, and out a drop of essential oil of your choice. Put a towel over your head before leaning over the steam. This should direct the rising steam more towards your face. Steam for two to five minutes to open up your pores and get the essential oils deeper into your skin.
Instead of steaming, you can also try applying the oil topically. It is of the utmost importance that you do not use an essential oil undiluted on your skin. They are too strong for your face, which is a particularly vulnerable skin area. Many essential oils are made to be safe for inhalation and topical application.
However, in the instance that yours is not, remember to combine it with a carrier oil for your safety. The last thing you want to do is to harm your skin further. Though there are several oils for you to choose from (olive oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, etc.), cold-pressed argan oil is high in oleic and linoleic acids, which could further support your treatment of age spots. Combine five to six drops of your essential oil with one ounce of argan oil to create a safe mixture for your skin.
We recommend lavender essential oil. Though lavender essential oil is most famous for its calming effects, it can also be used to help treat your age spots. The sweet, floral aroma is known to relax, relieve stress, and improve sleep quality. As a skin-supporting agent, however, lavender essential oil is most useful because of its antioxidant properties.
We suggest trying our WOW Skin Science Lavender Essential Oil. Our oil offers benefits for both your physical and emotional health. It is known to be calming and relaxing, which helps in reducing stress.
It is also beneficial for soothing skin, minimizing the look of scarring, and smoothing your skin’s texture. It can even be used to improve the quality of your hair by promoting hair growth and naturally moisturizing your hair to make it feel softer.
Other essential oils that may help to benefit your skin include:
- Lemon essential oil
- Frankincense essential oil
- Rosemary essential oil
- Ylang-ylang essential oil
For explanations as to how these oils can boost your skin’s health, check out our guide.
If your age spots are affecting your quality of life, there is no reason for you to keep them around. Whether you take a holistic approach or rely on the skin care technology of the future, there are ways to treat your spots. Explore the different options and settle on the one that is best suited for you, your lifestyle, and your specific skin needs.