Prolong exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light increase the production of melanin (skin pigment which gives it dark color). The melanin clump together in the skin and form tan or brown spots, which are called age spots. These spots are seen clearly in fair skin people but these occur even in dark skin people.
Age spots are harmless and do not need any treatment. However, if you think age spots makes you older than you look, makes you unattractive you can go for treatment. There are several effective methods, which can reduce the age spots or even completely remove them. Melanin is situated at the base of the top layer of skin. So, any treatment method should penetrate this layer to be effective.
What Is The Best Treatment For Age Spots?
Here are some treatments that can be done for age spots. It is very important to use a sunscreen cream at least with a SPF of 30 with any of the treatment mentioned below.
Tropical Treatments for Age Spots
Hydroquinone for Treating Age Spots: Hydroquinone inhibits the enzyme tyrosinase, which helps in the production of melanin. The prescribed cream contains 4% of hydroquinone whereas the over the counter preparations contains only 2%. Apply the cream before going to sleep then wash it off in the morning. Small amounts should be applied to the center of the age spot and then spread it over the edges. This will prevent one of the side effects “ghosting,” which is lighting of the skin outside the age spot.
Need to apply for at least 8 to 12 weeks to get best results; some might get results before that.
This may result a temporary dryness, redness, burning in the skin.
Retinoids: It is a vitamin A compound and known to be beneficial in treating age spots. It works by increasing the turnover of skin cells and suppressing the melanin producing cells. It can take several months to reduce the age spots.
Hyrdoquinone and Retinoids: Both these topical treatments for age spots can be combined and given as well, if one topical agent alone is not working.
Laser & Intense Pulse Light Therapy
Laser & intense pulsed light therapy is very effective in removing age spots, but it’s quite expensive. It destroys the melanin producing cells without damaging the skin and boost up new skin formation. With three sessions of either laser therapy or intense pulsed light therapy you can get results. One of the side effects is the slight discoloration of the surrounding skin.
It’s an exfoliating treatment for age spots which consists of sanding down the outer skin layer with a rapidly rotating brush. This will remove the current skin layer and a new layer of skin will grow. You will have to undergo this procedure several times to get the desired effects. Temporary redness and scab formation of the skin can be noted.
Chemical Peels for Treatment of Age Spots
An acid is applied on the areas of the age spots, this will burn the outer layer of the skin and new skin will from in its place. Several sessions with chemical peeling is needed to successively remove the age spots. Commonly used acids are glycolic, mandelic, lactic and salicylic. Side effects include temporary redness and slight risk of permanent changes in the skin color.
A cotton swab is soaked in liquid nitrogen or another freezing agent and applied to the age spot to destroy the extra pigment. When that area heals the skin becomes lighter. This is used on single age spots or small group of age spots. Side effects include temporary irritation and permanent scarring and discoloration.
This procedure is performed using medical grade, stainless steel roller covered with hundreds of tiny spikes. This should be directed on the age spots and small injuries will develop within the age spot. When the healing occurs with new skin the age spots will disappear.
It’s best to combine microneedling with topical treatment (creams mentioned above) for age spots. When the skin is open it’s easy for the topical drugs to act on the age spot and reduce it. If the procedure is done aggressively permanent scar formation can occur.
There are several methods to treat age spots effectively. This includes topical treatment either with hydroquinone, retinoids or combination of both topical drugs. Other treatment methods include laser and intense pulse light therapy, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, cryotherapy and microneedling. It’s important you use a sun screen at least of 30 SPF with any of the above methods.