Notice a few new smooth, dark spots on your skin this year? Don’t be alarmed — they’re prolly just age spots.
Also known as liver spots or lentigines, these hyperpigmentation spots develop in response to too much fun in the sun. The good news is that they’re usually harmless.
But even though they don’t need fixing, you might not love the way they look. In that case, there are safe and effective age spot treatments to help reduce their visibility.
Wanna remove or lighten your age spots? Here are some professional treatments designed to reduce or eliminate these bad boys from your face and bod.
Let’s talk prescription topicals. These medicated creams are formulated to help lighten spots. Have patience — sometimes it takes a few months to see results.
Your dermatologist might prescribe:
- topical steroids
Heads up: Medicated creams aren’t without risk. They can cause temporary side effects like:
If you experience any of these for more than a few days, stop using it! Tell your doc or dermatologist. They’ll help you figure out if the product just isn’t right for you.
While they may not be as powerful as prescription topicals, over-the-counter (OTC) products might be an affordable and accessible way to lighten age spots.
For a hyperpigmentation-correcting punch, look for products that contain these ingredients:
- alpha hydroxy acid
- glycolic acid
- kojic acid
Bonus: Many of the creams and serums in the beauty aisle also include ingredients that help smooth fine lines and hydrate dry skin.
Laser and IPL treatment
Laser and intense pulsed light (IPL) treatments are both light-based treatments used to blast age spots to infinity and beyond!
Both treatments fade spots by reaching below the surface of your skin. Laser resurfacing removes skin layers until the spot is gone, while IPL uses high-power light energy to destroy melanin (the stuff that gives age spots their color).
The best part? These treatments can produce long-lasting effects. IPL gets additional bonus points for potentially improving skin texture.
A word of warning: You’ve got to vigilantly protect your skin from the sun to avoid damage after these treatments. Some folks also experience temporary discoloration, redness, and after laser resurfacing. Plan for 7 days of downtime.
This cooler-than-cool treatment uses *ice cold* solution to literally freeze away dark spots. ❄️
During cryotherapy treatment, your doc will use a cotton swab to apply a liquid nitrogen solution directly onto the spot. It *can* sting a bit.
Though cryotherapy won’t entirely eliminate age spots, it’ll certainly make them less visible. That makes it better for tackling individual age spots than larger clusters.
Prepare to deal with temporary skin irritation or discoloration after treatment. Some folks also develop scars.
Think of dermabrasion as the most intense exfoliation. It’ll strip away your skin’s surface layer, including age spots or other hyperpigmentation.
Dermabrasion involves a rapidly spinning brush used for “planing,” i.e., sanding down the top layer of your skin. Time for a fresh glow!
Some folks need multiple dermabrasion treatments to notice a difference. But this treatment can trigger redness, irritation, and scabbing. Discuss sensitive skin with your dermatologist to help decide if dermabrasion is right for you.
Essentially the “light” version of dermabrasion, microdermabrasion gently and gradually removes the top layer of skin. If dermabrasion “sands” the skin, microdermabrasion polishes it.
It might take time — and several treatments — to see results from microdermabrasion. Commit to appointments for several months if you wanna fully reap those sweet, spot-reducing benefits.
Microdermabrasion can cause redness or even scabbing. It can also exacerbate skin conditions like rosacea.
This procedure uses teeny-tiny needles to repeatedly puncture the skin. The resulting micro-wounds kick off your skin’s natural healing process, leading to skin cell turnover and a fresh glow.
Research suggests that microneedling can lighten dark spots *and* reduce wrinkles, boost collagen production, and improve skin elasticity.
Microneedling is considered fairly safe, but you might experience temporary redness, swelling, or dryness. People with certain skin conditions or infections should avoid microneedling, as it may worsen symptoms or cause scarring. Discuss any concerns beforehand with your dermatologist.
A chemical peel is just what it sounds like: chemicals are used to “peel” off the top layer of your skin.
During a peel, your doc will apply a liquid acid or enzyme to your face. The acid lifts (or peels) the skin, removing age spots and blemishes along with it. Like dermabrasion, a chemical peel can promote new skin cell growth.
Unlike dermabrasion, chemical peels come in varying types and strengths. Your doctor will choose the best option for your skin type and goals.
If all you can think of is Samantha Jones in *that* episode of “Sex and the City,” hear us out. Yes, a chemical peel can cause some redness. But no, you shouldn’t come out looking like a red lobster.
Your skin might flake, however, as dead skin sloughs off. In rare cases, people experience temporary skin discoloration or scarring.
Don’t forget the sunscreen!
Looking to DIY your spots away? Research is super limited, but these home remedies *might* help prevent or lighten age spots.
- Lemon juice. Citric acid and other antioxidants (like Vitamin C) found in lemon juice may help “bleach” age spots.
- Apple cider vinegar (ACV). Research suggests that ACV’s acetic acid can help lighten dark spots.
- Aloe vera. Aloe contains aloin, which may help treat hyperpigmentation.
- Green tea. Research suggests that green tea extract may have a lightning effect when applied to skin.
- Red onion. Dried red onion skin could help lighten dark patches of skin.
- Turmeric. Turmeric has been known to decrease the production of melanin.
- Papaya. Alpha-hydroxy acids in papaya may help exfoliate skin and reduce discoloration.
Remember, anecdotal evidence isn’t the same as a well-designed clinical study. We need more solid science to confirm these DIY treatments for age spots.
Age spots aren’t a given part of aging. These round, dark patches develop when skin cells go into overdrive producing melanin. Prolonged sun exposure can speed up production (thanks, UV rays 🙄).
Most peeps notice age spots after turning 50, but they can pop up in any season of life. Your risk of developing them goes up if you:
Age spots have several defining features, including:
- round or oval shape
- tan to dark brown coloring
- smooth, flat surface
- single spots or clusters
- size varying from a pinpoint to up to an inch in width
Age spots are most likely to appear on your face, shoulders, chest, arms, or hands — basically, the body parts most exposed to the sun.
To diagnose age spots, your dermatologist will do a thorough visual inspection. If they suspect the possibility of skin cancer, they might perform a skin biopsy.
A leopard may not be able to change its spots, but if you notice some shifts with yours, it’s time to call the doc.
These warrant a skin cancer screening:
- color shifts, especially red, black, or blue
- a growing spot with an irregular border
- changing shapes
If you have a lot of spots or freckles, it can be tricky to keep track. But even if you think a spot *might* have grown or changed colors, it’s better to be safe than sorry. A doctor can take a closer look and perform a skin biopsy if necessary.
Age spots are small, round areas of hyperpigmentation that appear over time. They’re most often a result of prolonged sun exposure.
Age spots don’t usually require treatment. But if you want to lighten them, you can. Popular age spot treatments include topical creams, laser therapy, cryotherapy, dermabrasion, and chemical peels.
Talk with a healthcare professional if you notice any changes in the shape, size, or color of your dark spots. This could be a sign of an underlying skin condition. Only a doctor can provide you with a diagnosis and recommend treatment.