How To Get Rid Of Age Spots, According To Dermatologists

How To Get Rid Of Age Spots, According To Dermatologists

Ah, nothing’s better than the happy vibes that a sunny day brings. And while you should totally take full advantage of the mental health benefits of the sun, you should proceed with caution when it comes to your skin. If not, you put yourself at risk for a bunch of skin concerns besides sunburn. See: sun spots, sometimes referred to as age spots.

Age spots, which are medically known as lentigos, are those brown spots that tend to appear as you get older. They’re easier to spot on lighter skin, but people with darker skin can get them too. “They are brown spots that you cannot feel since they’re flat, and they are typically located on sun-exposed areas of the face, neck, chest, back, arms, and legs. They are similar in appearance across all skin tones,” says Adekemi Akingboye, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Sona Dermatology in Washington, D.C.

Despite being the same in appearance, Dr. Akingboye says they are a little less common in people with Black skin. “These are much less common in darker-skinned people but do happen, especially in Asian, Hispanic, and Latinx populations.”

Aside from those flat brown spots, age spots can also appear in a freckle-like appearance, says Heather Woolery-Lloyd, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Florida. That may look like “freckling and all of the uneven skin tone and modeled pigment that people get with age, and is common in all skin types,” she says. “They’re not hyper-pigmented, but they are an age spot in that they’re little spots you get on the skin with age, almost like confetti.”

The sole culprit of age spots is sun exposure over time, says Dr. Woolery-Lloyd, which can be a real issue if you live in a sunnier climate. “If you lived in a cave, you wouldn’t get them. It’s really just chronic sun exposure over years and years.”

If age spots are a real concern for you, don’t fret. They’re really more of a cosmetic issue, and there are ways to prevent them and treat them. Read on to learn more.

Can you treat age spots at home?

Yes, there are tons of over-the-counter products you can use to treat age spots at home. When it comes to finding a great OTC product, Dr. Woolery-Lloyd says to aim for something with hydroquinone, which is a skin-lightening compound which has the ability to fade dark spots. “The gold standard is considered hydroquinone, but there are lots of cosmeceuticals that you can get over the counter that have ingredients to fade dark spots.” Some ingredients she suggests looking for include vitamin C, retinol, and acids, like glycolic and salicylic. Other ingredients that she says are great for lightening dark spots include licorice, soy, niacinamide, and green tea. Dr. Woolery-Lloyd’s skincare line, Specific Beauty, is specifically designed to fade dark spots and dark marks.

Some over-the-counter products Dr. Akingboye recommends for treating age spots include Murad’s Dark Spot-Correcting Serum, SkinCeuticals’ Discoloration Defense, and Ambi Fade Cream (all linked below). But before beginning any treatment, Dr. Akingboye recommends you “always consult your dermatologist, read product directions, and watch for irritation from any of these products.”

What are the in-office procedures and ways dermatologists can treat age spots?

If you prefer to speed up the treatment of your age spots or over-the-counter products are not effective for you, some in-office treatments are available. One of these options are chemical peels, says Dr. Akingboye. “There are many chemical peels that are available, but multiple sessions are typically required.I love ViPeel and plain glycolic acid peels, and these work great in all skin types.” When performed by an expert, Dr. Akingboye says that side effects from these treatments, like hyperpigmentation are rare.

Another way a derm might treat your age spots is through the use of cryotherapy, or by freezing the top layer of your skin. “We can freeze some of these spots with liquid nitrogen, and then that the causes the top layer of the skin to peel and fall off, leaving normal skin underneath,” says Dr. Woolery-Lloyd.

Lastly, another remedy for age spots is the use of lasers, or treatments like IPL, Intense Pulse Light, which can destroy unwanted pigment. However, not all lasers are appropriate for all skin types and skin colors. “If you have a darker skin type, the experience of your provider is critical but as long as the right tool and experience are there, laser is very safe.” To avoid side effects, make sure you’re working with a dermatologist who’s familiar with treating your skin tone.

Dr. Woolery-Lloyd says that in-office treatments start at $150 per treatment and can go up to $800, depending on what exactly you’re getting done. If that seems a little pricey, then you might want to seek help from OTC products, which tend to be a little more budget-friendly and accessible.

Are there ways to prevent age spots?

Yep, there are and you probably guessed the number one thing you can do: Wear sunscreen. “The best age spot is the one you never get.Sunscreen is the most important product you can use to prevent age spots and other aging effects from too much sun exposure, such as a decrease in elasticity of skin and increased wrinkling,” says Dr. Akingboye. She recommends using an SPF 30 or higher on all sun exposed areas and re-applying it every two hours for the best protection. Some products with sun protection she personally loves include the Bolden Brightening Moisturizer, La Roche Posay’s Toleriane Double Repair Moisturizer with SPF 30, and Elta MD’s UV Clear.

In addition to wearing sunscreen, Dr. Woolery-Lloyd also suggests wearing a wide-brimmed hat of at least four inches when you can, staying in the shade, and getting started on sun protection early.

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