What Are Age Spots? Prevent & Cure Them

As they age, many people are afflicted with dark splotches on the face, arms, and hands. Whether you call them age spots, lentigines, sun spots, or liver spots, these unraised splotches of increased pigmentation are a sure sign of aged, damaged skin. Along with wrinkles and rough texture, they are a major symptom of sun damage. Age spots can be brown, black, or grey, and they generally appear on the parts of your skin that get the most sun exposure. They can range in size from small freckles to circles with a one centimeter diameter.

Although they aren’t dangerous, age spots are certainly unattractive. With care, it is possible to avoid getting age spots in the first place, but if they’ve already made an appearance on your skin, a number of popular treatments have been developed to decrease their appearance.

This article will discuss:

Age Spots

As mentioned earlier, age spots are harmless blotches caused by too much sun exposure. They are related to moles, which are also caused by the sun. Moles are raised spots ranging in color from white, to brown, to black. Unlike age spots, moles appear anywhere on the skin.

Also, unlike harmless age spots, some moles are cancerous and a sign of malignant melanoma. Since early detection of skin cancer is so important, have your dermatologist examine any new age spots or moles as soon as possible, especially if they change color, shape, or size.

How they form

Sun exposure, age, skin color, and genetics all contribute to how one is affected by age spots. When the skin absorbs too much sun, it produces extra melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color and produces tans, to protect itself. In time, melanin can clump up and form age spots. Although the spots can from on people of any age, they are most common in people over 40. This results from older people having accumulated more sun exposure and from the fact that some people simply produce more melanin as they age.

How to prevent

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The best way to prevent age spots from sun damage is sun avoidance and protection. Try to stay away from the sun between the hours of 10am and 4pm, which is when the suns rays are the strongest. Wear long sleeves and pants for the best sun protection. Sunscreen is more practical because wearing protective clothing in the sun can get very hot. Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before coming in contact with the sun, because the sunscreen needs time to absorb. Choose a 15 spf or more broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA rays that cause burning and UVB rays that cause aging and skin damage. Since so much time is spent in cars, install protective film should be installed in car windows. This film protects against UVB rays, the rays causing skin and age damage.

How to cure

The appearance of age spots can be treated in many ways. However, some treatments can be expensive. Many are not covered by insurance companies because age spot removal is considered cosmetic surgery. Most treatments cause increased sun sensitivity, so a high SPF sunscreen is a necessity.

  • Lasers — Laser treatments work by destroying the extra melanin in age spots gradually over weeks or months. The laser procedure often requires two or more sessions and can be expensive. Most people call the treatment painless, but everyone has a different tolerance for pain.
  • Medications — Prescription medicines such as bleaching creams containing hydroquinone and retinoids can reduce the appearance of age spots. Results should be see after several months of regular usage.
  • Freezing (crynotherapy) — When applied to the age spots, liquid nitrogen or other freezing agents work to destroy extra pigment. With freezing, there is a risk of permanent scarring or discoloration.
  • Dermabrasion — This is the process of sanding off a layer skin to remove the age spots; it is one of the most painful treatment options. After dermabrasion, redness and scabs may result before the skin heals to a new, spot-free layer.
  • Chemical peel — Acid is applied to the skin to burn away the outer layers of skin. When they peel away, it reveals fresh skin without spots. Several visits are required before the effects of superficial chemical peels are noticed.
  • Over-the-counter treatments — Lightening lotions are available at drug stores and online. Some contain lower concentrations of the ingredients found in prescription. They show results after weeks or months of regular use. Lotions containing hydroquinone, deoxyarbutin, glycolic acid, or kojic acid work best to reduce the appearance of age spots. Prolonged use can cause skin irritation.

If you don’t currently have age spots, it’s important to focus on prevention now, particularly if other members of your family have them. Reducing sun exposure and wearing sunscreen are your best weapons to avoid sun damage. If you already have age spots, you can still focus on wearing sunscreen to avoid getting more, as well ask seeking out treatments to fade the discolorations.

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78 Comments • Please comment below


  1. […] I have used a variety of methods to rid myself of these annoying brown patches and I feel like the situation is finally under control.  Learn more about the various ways you can eliminate brown spots in this Dr. Perricone article. […]

  2. I am now 65. I have had very little sun exposure in the last 25 years. I am in the sun maybe 1 or 2 weeks out of a year. I have hundreds/maybe thousands of brown spots on my legs both upper and lower area. I use self tanning lotions weekly. Question: could this process create brown spots as well as sun exposure and age does? Laser removal would be overwhelming, bleach would take hours to do each one and would take away the tan I am trying to achieve. I thought the spots might turn into one “tan” leg, but doesn’t seem to. :) Other than my legs, I look much younger.

  3. I have tried a few different things and I only have a couple dark spots -on my forehead and cheek. I have tried apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, onion juice and microdermabrasion. I also watched some how to remove dark spot videos on you tube, but these did not work either. My 2 spots are not that big of a deal. PLEASE HELP!

  4. what do sugest for sunspots?

  5. And I am 23 years old and maybe two years ago i started noticing these spots everytime I go to doctor he tells me I’m breaking out well its not true. It’s starting to be irritating on my chest please let me know whatvi could do at home. Me and my boyfriend r very concerned… Please write back.

  6. I have suffered with dark spots my entire life and would love a chance to finally walk out of the house without makeup. Thank you

  7. i would like to try it i have aging spots on my face and hands.thank you.

  8. Does Perricone Blue Plasma get rid of age spots?
    I’ve tried prescription (Triluma) creams but it causes
    my skin to look like someone took a lit cigarette to it.
    I’m close to getting laser treatment, but I’m afraid of
    any possible negative outcome, especially on my face (where the blotchy spots are very faint–almost melasma like). I’ve been assured laser treatment is safe and effective but I still view it as a last
    resort. My hands are horrible and
    I don’t think laser treatment can address so many spots–
    my hands need to be flayed I fear. So should I give Blue
    Plasma a try? I will say kojic acid (otc) and retinol products available at the drugstore haven’t worked at all.
    Clinique, Shisheido, and other cosmetic arbutin products haven’t worked either–zero change in appearance of the spots. I’d appreciate any guidance
    you can offer. Thank you! Va.

  9. i am a healthy 44yrs man who just started to get dark spots on the bottom of my feet,i would love to try out products

  10. OMG,I walked outside on my break today, I looked down – Age Spots! Im 47yrs old, most people think I’m still in my 30′s. I am a firm believe in sun screen, I use spf 30 religiously. I am just devastated now these have appeared. If you would like to consider me to try your products I would be absolutely thrilled. I don’t want to look 47 yet.

  11. I am interested in products to help with my brown spots appearing on my face. I will be 39 next week and getting married in March 2013. I wear mineral makeup every day and it’s supposed to have sunscreen in it. But I keep seeing brown spots grow.

  12. Hello my name is zee an I,m 54 years old until a year ago I have had the most nice looking skin but now I have these brown spots on both sides of my face I tryed so many products but nothing seems to work I whould love to try your product.

  13. I would like to try your products


  14. I have light brown spots on my leg. i would like to test out your products.

  15. I’m 50 I would like to be a tester of your product if its free I just started getting more brown circles latly and there ugly

  16. I am 39 years old and have been an avid tanner since my teens which I now deeptly regret. In the last couple of years I’ve deleveloped dark spots all over my legs and spots on my face as well. I work out all the time and am otherwise in good shape but because of the spots I’m embarrased to wear shorts or dresses. I’ve tried several products and nothing works. I would like to be a tester for your product in hopes that this might be the first one that works. Thank you

  17. I have lots of spots on arms& hands I would like to use a cream to try

  18. Hello,
    I’m 45 years old and just developed dark spots on my face. I have 3 total, 1 right cheekbone & the other 2 are on each cheek. I am so devastated by this. They just formed in the early spring of this year 2012. I’ve always had great skin. I have been researching online for something to help but there’s so much & its all so expensive. I’m desperate. I hope to be selected to test very soon. Thanks so much for the opportunity.

  19. My 12 Years old daughter had a Brown spot on her chest and i don’t know what to do

  20. Thank you for this opportunity..
    I am 53 and in great health, not on any medications.5’3 125lbs
    My age spots are on my arms. I stopped tanning my face at age 19, as I recognized older tanned women with very wringled leather skin from years of tanning.I have never had a sun burn.I am of carribean indian heritage which makes me tan easily, even with sun screen..I look forward to hearing from you.

  21. I am 63 years old, and have age spots all over my legs, arms and one large one on my face. I’ve read some of the comments from people, and I don’t have much to say that differs from what they’ve already said. I have hid my legs and arms for years because of the way they look. I, like so many others, cannot afford laser treatments, but would be very interested in any new OTC product.

  22. I listed my sister’s name above, but I am Marilyn. My sister age 23 got a sun burn a couple of years ago and she didn’t recover appropriately from it. She has sun spots or patches on her shoulder that she feels very embarrassed by, and does wear tank tops or sleeves less shirts any more. Her birthday is right around the corner and was hoping to find something for her.
    Thank you,

  23. I am 36 and have sun spots all over my legs and arms from avid tanning for 15 years, year round. I regret it so much now. I won’t wear shorts or a bathing suit and I am 36 years young!! I have had IPL and had them frozen with the liquid nitrogen in my dermatologists office. Nothing will get rid of them and I am hopeless! I have the skin of someone in their 60′s all because I tanned (and clearly bad genetics). On top of the sun spots I have dry discolored patches on my knees, ankles, legs, arms and chest. They look like bruises but are just discolored skin patches all from tanning. I would love to be a tester. Nothing has worked for me and I have spent a lot of money trying. I am hopeless! Please help!!!

  24. I’m 15 years old and I have these little brown dots all over just the top of my right hand nowhere else and my mom say’s I’ve had them sense I was a baby she think’s it’s because I had yellow jondus disease I don’t think I spelled that right but oh well it bother’s me e asked my doctor and they don’t know what it is could someone please tell me if what I have is really just age spot’s because I really want to know what this is.

  25. I am 47 years old I have always loved being outside and being at the beach In the past 4 years my skin has started getting brown spots my legs is covered and now Im starting to get them on my arms it makes me feel bad about myself I try to hide them as best as I can I’ve tryed several products none seem to work please help…..I would appericate anything you would do to help me I’m getting where I just want to stay home I’ve always been very outgoing. Thank You Kathy

  26. I am 49 with very fair skin and a family history of brown spots. I have had 2 laser treatments on my arms with only slight success. My legs are also covered with brown spots. I am uncomfortable in shorts and short sleeve tops. Please help!!

  27. I’m 51 and am I getting what looks to be brown freckles on my legs only. I try to “scrap” them with my nail and sometimes they will come off?

    I’m perplexed.

  28. I am 45 and have a medium/olive complexion. As a child I tanned easily, never burned. As I’ve gotten older I have developed sun spots on my cheeks, and have tried various over the counter remedies. None have worked. I would love to be a tester for any new products that may help improve the appearance of my skin.