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Age Spots

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What is it?

Age Spots are technically known as “Solar Lentigines” which are also known as sunspots. They are well-defined, uniformly coloured areas of brown or grey pigment. These spots tend to show in people aged 50 and above although it isn’t uncommon for age spots to appear in younger people who use tanning beds or get sunburns occasionally. They tend to be harmless but as they resemble skin cancer it’s crucial to get these spots identified by a doctor as soon as possible.

What are the symptoms?

These spots can affect all skin types, but they typically show up more in people with light skin. Normally, age spots surface areas of the skin that receive the most sun exposure. These areas are the face, back of the hands, shoulders, back, arms and the top of the feet. They tend to vary in size, ranging from 0.2 – 2.0 centimetres in diameter.

What are the causes?

Age spots are caused primarily by years of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun. The use of commercial tanning lamps and tanning beds can also contribute to the development of age spots. These spots are a form of hyperpigmentation and appear as flat, small, darkened patches of skin that vary in colour from light to brown to black. They are the outcome of the body producing an excess amount of melanin. Melanin is the pigment that gives skin its colour.

What should you avoid?

Avoiding exposure to the sun and the usage of tanning beds will help prevent age spots. Applying a minimum of SPF 30 on a daily and regular basis to the face and body will protect the skin from sun exposure and heat. Additionally reapplying sunscreen every 2 hours, limiting your use of tanning beds and wearing gloves when gardening or cycling especially in the sun can also limit your chances of having age spots.

Who is affected?

Age spots are very common in adults aged 50 and over. However, younger people can develop them too, especially if they spend a lot of time in the sun. These particular spots can show up on any skin type but they usually surface on lighter skin.

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