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How to Treat Age Spots

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD

WebMD Magazine - Feature

After a lifetime of being exposed to the sun, you're bound to have multiple consequences, including brown spots on your hands and face. Age spots, technically known as "solar lentigines," are well-defined, uniformly colored areas of brown or grayish pigment that generally show up on the hands, face, neck, and chest. Despite the name, these spots are not caused by age. Rather, they come from sun damage.

You can treat age spots several ways. Dermatologists have great results with prescription-strength retinol and HQ creams. These work faster than over-the-counter formulations. Dermatologists also use microdermabrasion, chemical peels, chemical spot treatments, laser treatments, and light therapy to lighten age spots. Some of these procedures require just one treatment; others take two or three sessions.

The most popular at-home treatments are over-the-counter hydroquinone (HQ) preparations. These products inhibit melanin production in the skin. But they tend to be more effective for treating melasma or hormonally induced irregular pigmentations than for treating true age spots. Have a dermatologist check your age spots yearly to make sure they truly are harmless. If you notice changes in color, size, shape, or feel, tell your skin care specialist right away.

Laurie Polis, MD, WebMD Skin & Beauty Expert

 

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