Getting older can mean a lot of things for different people. From, belly fat to thunder thighs to wrinkles, it’s a time that many people dread.
One other affliction that becomes more prevalent, especially in fair-skinned people over 40, is age spots (aka brown spots, dark spots, liver spots, sun spots or solar lentigines).
If bad enough, these spots, especially those on the face and hands, can really make people look look older than they actually are.
You ask any dermatologist – besides wanting to know how to reduce wrinkles, how to get lighter skin for the purpose of removing age spots is probably the most common question patients ask.
The great news is that these spots affect only the outermost layer of your skin. Therefore, there are many non-invasive treatments options available.
If you want to take matters into your own hands, there are several topical creams that can be bought over-the-counter. Though, there are some that are only available on prescription.
For the topical route, a combination of the treatments labeled 1-5 below is perhaps the best approach.
Alternatively, you may enlist the help of a dermatologist or plastic surgeon. In this case, one or more of the treatment options labelled 5a-7 below may be available to you.
The information below seeks to explain the various treatment options for preventing and eliminating age spots. Hopefully, the information will help you ask the right questions when you are seeking treatment.
1. Avoid Sun Over-Exposure
Truth be told, age spots are not usually caused any aging at all. They are basically hyperpigmentation (excess melanin in the skin) brought on by sun-exposure. The spots you are seeing now were years in the making.
So your age spots are basically payback for years of sun-drenched activities you undertook without adequately protecting yourself from the sun.
All those UV rays turbocharge melanocyte, which are dark-pigment producing cells. As a result, the melanin is produced and it then clusters into brown spots.
So it’s best to avoid over-exposing yourself to the sun as so doing could bring on more spots and darken current spots. That said, you do need some exposure to the sun because sun exposure does bring some very important health benefits.
By using a sunscreen, you’ll be able to limit your sun exposure. All sunscreens are not made equal though. It’s very important that you choose the right one.
You can also wear a broad brimmed hat or stay in the shade to help prevent sun overexposure. Oh… and stay away from tanning SkinCell PRO beds as well.
2. Use Tyrosinase Inhibitors
Ever see those brown spots on the skins of damaged fruits? Well that is the tyrosinase enzyme in action. It does a similar thing to human skin.
In order for the melanocytes to produce melanin, tyrosinase has to be present. Many Skin brightening creams contain one or more tyrosinase inhibitors – ingredients such as arbutin, hydroquinone, kojic acid, mulberry extract and Vitamin C.
When these ingredients inhibit the enzyme, they prevent further pigment from forming. However, you might have to wait a couple weeks or even months to see noticeably results as it takes time for existing pigment to peel off.
Hydroquinone is perhaps the most common of those inhibitors. It is the only FDA-approved ingredient for bleaching pigmentation.
Although hydroquinone is the gold standard for lightening age spots, it is quite a controversial ingredient. It can be quite irritating and it is a suspected carcinogen.
Actually, it’s use as a bleaching agent is banned in the European Union but in the U.S it is still considered safe by doctors if used in lower concentrations.
In the U.S., over the counter hydroquinone-based bleaching treatments cannot have more than 2% of the ingredient while prescription treatments can only have a maximum of 4%.
After you achieve the desired result with hydroquinone, it is advised to stop treatment.
3. Use PAR-2 blockers
After skin pigment is made, it is taken from the melanocytes to the skin cells in small “packages” known as melanosomes. Ingredients known as PAR-2 blockers stop the pigment from being placed in the top layers of the skin.
Look for treatments that contain niacinamide and soy act as these act as PAR-2 blockers. But again, patience is the name of the game. Improvement in your condition won’t be noticeable until cells that contain pigment peel off.
Niacinamide is also a good moisturizer. It hydrates the skin and helps keep wrinkles at bay.
4. Lignin Peroxidase
First identified in 1984, lignin peroxidase enzyme is one of the newer ingredients to crop up in the fight against skin discoloration. This ingredient breaks down existing pigment, so the results of skin lightening can be visible more quickly.
There are many types of lignin peroxidase but so far, only one has been developed and proven to be effective in making skin lighter. That enzyme, which has been patented as “Melanozyme,” is only available in Elure line of products.