What Causes Age Spots?
Age spots commonly affect the arms and hands. They are actually hyper-pigmented areas of the skin.
The skin’s natural pigment is called melanin. The cells that produce melanin are deep within the skin’s layers. Several things stimulate the cells to produce melanin, including exposure to toxins and hormonal changes. But the most common cause of increased melanin production is sun exposure.
Age spots typically appear on the arms, hands and other parts of the body that are frequently exposed to sunlight. The connection to age may be that older skin contains fewer naturally occurring antioxidants.
Antioxidants work to neutralize free radicals that are produced during sun exposure. It is likely that excessive free radical activity and free radical damage to the melanin producing cells is the actual cause of age spots.
From the age of 40 and up, the skin is less able to regenerate from excessive sun exposure and free radical damage, because the skin’s antioxidant content is lower. The antioxidants naturally present in the skin include superoxide dismutase and glutathione. Large quantities of those antioxidants are present in young healthy skin.
How to Prevent Age Spots
It may be obvious that avoiding excessive sun exposure is a key to having healthy evenly colored skin. But some sun exposure is good for you. It allows your body to produce vitamin D and small amounts of UV exposure help to heal other skin conditions such as psoriasis and acne.
Many dermatologists are now suggesting that we always protect facial skin from the sun, because it is thinner and more easily damaged. To get the benefits of vitamin D, they recommend exposing the arms and legs.
So, what do we do to protect those areas from sun and the UV damage that causes age spots? There are several solutions.
One preventative measure is to consistently use a hand and body lotion that contains natural vitamin E. Natural vitamin E is known to help prevent the appearance of brown age spots. Beware that not all vitamin E in body lotions is the natural kind. Most is synthetic. Another idea is to expose the arms and hands for no more than five minutes at a time. Yet another is to consistently use a good broad spectrum sunscreen. Sunscreens also interfere with vitamin D production, but only a small amount of sun exposure is needed for your body to produce vitamin D.
Some skin cancer specialists say that taking vitamin D supplements is safer than exposing your skin to the sun to get vitamin D. This is particularly true if there is a history of skin cancer in your family.
Getting Rid of Age Spots
Once you have them, you want to know how to get rid of them. You think it is too late to prevent them. But using the preventative measures is important if you want to see the best results. The skin can continue to repair some damage, but if you constantly re-expose the area to sunlight, you will find that the spot comes back.
Once you protect the area from the sun, the next step is to support the skin’s natural regenerating processes. While there are some creams on the market for getting rid of age spots, they contain an ingredient that has been banned in many countries, because it is believed to increase a person’s risk of skin cancer.
The ingredient in most of the spot fading creams is hydroquinone. Other than the risk of skin cancer, the biggest problem with hydroquinone is that you never know exactly how your skin will react to it. In some cases, it causes the appearance of dark black spots that are even more unsightly than light colored age spots.
Safe and natural solutions are always the best. You will learn about the safest and most natural solutions in the next two sections.
Home Remedies You Can Make for Age Spots
There are many home recipes for getting rid of age spots. They work because they contain mild natural acids or have some natural bleaching activity. The recipe that follows is one that most people can make with ingredients they already have in the kitchen.
- 1 medium sized onion
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- Chop the onion in a food processor until you have a pulp.
- Strain any chunks that remain. What you really want is the juice of the onion.
- Mix the apple cider vinegar with the onion juice until well blended. T
- ake a cotton pad or swab and dip it in the mixture.
- Apply this directly to the spot and leave on for a minimum of 30 minutes.
- Note: This is a relatively strong solution. If it starts to feel uncomfortable, you can rinse it off with cold water.
You should notice a gradual improvement if you use this solution every day for about six weeks. You can do this daily for as long as you like. It is relatively safe, although the mild acids can cause excessive dryness.
The following ingredients can be found in the better anti-aging body lotions.
They will also work to fade age spots caused by sun exposure over time, but they will not cause irritation. You can also use the lotion after cleaning away the onion/vinegar concoction to prevent dryness and to speed results. You’ll learn why the readymade ingredients can work faster in the next section.
Other Ingredients that Work Better for Age Spots
There are three keys to eliminating age spots and preventing them from coming back.
- The first is to keep the melanin producing cells from producing more melanin. You do that by limiting your sun exposure. Ideally you will protect the affected area completely from sunlight. You can use a small band-aid for example, to ensure that the spot is not exposed to UV radiation.
- The second key is to stimulate the skin to produce new cells that are lighter in color.
- The third key is to increase the skin’s antioxidant content. It takes special ingredients to do those things. You won’t find them in your kitchen.
Here are the body lotion ingredients to look for.
- Bioactive Keratin—a major component of the skin’s cells. Shown in studies to increase the proliferation of new skin cells significantly. This ingredient provides an additional benefit in that it has been shown to increase the superoxide dismutase and glutathione content of older skin.
- Nano-lipobelle HEQ10—a combination of the antioxidants coenzyme Q10 and vitamin E in a special form that can penetrate deep into the skin’s layers and hopefully repair damage to the melanin producing cells. Shown in several studies to reverse sun damage, this ingredient should be affective against age spots caused by sun exposure.
- Natural vitamin E—as mentioned above, natural vitamin E helps to prevent the appearance of age spots
- Phytessence Wakame—contains unique antioxidants that help repair and prevent further free radical damage. Bioactive keratin and nano-lipobelle HEQ10 stimulate the skin’s natural reparative processes while increasing the skin’s antioxidant content.
Natural vitamin E and Phytessence wakame further increase the skin’s antioxidant. It makes sense to look for all four ingredients, along with natural oils like jojoba and grape seed that moisturize and protect. Use this kind of body lotion on a regular basis and you should see your age spots disappear.