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What Causes Age Spots On My Skin?

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Age spots, also known as sun spots and liver spots, are small patches on the skin that are darker than the surrounding tissue. They are often referred to as age spots simply because they tend to occur as people age. Though they are generally harmless, they can be embarrassing. Knowing what causes age spots can help you prevent them and understand why some methods of getting rid of them work and others don’t.

What Age Spots Really Are

Age spots occur as the result of a build up of melanin in the skin. Melanin is the pigment that is responsible for giving the skin its color. There are factors that are known to speed up the production of melanin. When production speed is increased, it is possible for clumps to form and appear as small dark spots on the surface of the skin.

The aging process is one of the most common causes for age spots. People who are over the age of 40 are much more likely to have them than people who are younger. As we age, our bodies produce melanin at a faster rate which increases the odds of developing spots on the skin. As a result, these spots are seen as a common sign of aging.

What Can Cause Age Spots?

Exposure to UV rays from the sun or tanning beds also speeds up melanin production. When the skin is exposed to UV rays, the body produces more melanin to create a tan. Tanning is actually the body’s way of protecting the inner layers of the skin from damage. With frequent or prolonged exposure, however, it is possible for the excess melanin to form clumps. Because the sun is a major factor in the production of age spots, they are most likely to occur in places that are frequently exposed to the sun such as the face, neck, shoulders, arms and the backs of the hands.

Knowing what causes age spots is a key component in knowing how to prevent them. Avoid exposure to UV rays as much as possible. When exposure is unavoidable, always wear sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 50. If you already have age spots, it is possible to get rid of them using creams that bleach dark spots, cosmetic procedures that remove the outer layers of the skin or even laser treatments. While many people have had great success with these treatments, multiple applications or sessions are almost always needed to achieve full results.

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