Age spots are brown spots on your body, arms and legs that commonly appear sometime after the age of 30. Although they’re harmless, most people who have them would love to get rid of them. Here I explain age spots and share tips you can follow to treat and prevent them.
How do you know you have age spots?
There are two types of brown age spots:
- Solar lentigines (liver spots or sun spots)
- Seborrheic keratosis (age barnacles).
When a dark spot appears on your skin it’s difficult for you to tell whether it’s a harmless age spot or skin cancer. If in doubt, always get it checked by your dermatologist or doctor.
If you have a spot with any of the following signs, you should have it examined immediately:
- It has changed shape
- It has an irregular shape
- It’s black or a combination of colors
- It’s becoming darker in color
- It’s painful
- It bleeds or oozes discharge.
What do age spots look like?
These liver spots or sun spots tend to appear on areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun. They’re flat, dark patches that vary in size and they can look like freckles.
These types of spots are most common in people over the age of 50, but younger people who spend lots of time in the sun can also get them.
Seborrheic keratosis are crusty age spots. They’re scaly, bumpy growths that are darker than the rest of your skin. My patients and I call them skin barnacles because they're stuck on the skin like barnacles are stuck to rocks!
Skin barnacles can form on any part of your body, but most commonly along your hairline, neck (where they can look like small skin tags), under your breast folds, on your back, on the outside of your forearms, on the back of your hands, on the top of your feet, and behind your knees.
Why do we get age spots?
Liver spots or sun spots are caused by exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays over a number of years. UV light causes cells in your skin to produce melanin in a high concentration. Melanin is what gives your skin these patches of color.
Skin barnacles, just like warts, occur when living skin cells grow excessively and form a little mound that’s raised up higher than the rest of your skin. The little mound of living cells makes excessive layers of dead skin cells (called the stratum corneum). That’s why they feel crusty and stuck on - like a barnacle.
How to get rid of age spots
To lighten liver spots I recommend using our Pigment Fading Pads. The pads contain hydroquinone, which is the most powerful ingredient for lightening dark spots.
As hydroquinone is an unstable ingredient, skin care manufacturers commonly add preservatives like parabens and formaldehyde to their creams. As most people want to avoid chemicals like these, our Pigment Fading Pads are preservative free.
We are able to avoid using preservatives because we don’t mix our Pigment Fading Pads until you place your order. Alpha hydroxy acids, like glycolic acid, and retinoids (such as retinol) will also lighten the color of this type of age spot. To see success, you also need to protect your skin from UV rays by wearing broad spectrum sunscreen daily.
Skin barnacles’ treatment
I have a lot of patients with barnacles and I’m prone to them myself. Over the years, I’ve used a variety of AHA (alpha hydroxy acids) products to control them. I started developing a skin barnacles’ treatment kit just in time for my 40th birthday, when I grew my first barnacle on my right arm.
At the time, the concept of exfoliating skin care was less common. I experimented (on myself as usual) until I came up with something that worked well. It got rid of my barnacle and successfully stopped new ones appearing.
Since then, I’ve helped thousands of patients to treat and prevent skin barnacles with my turn-key Ultra-Fast Body Smoothing Triple Action Skin Care Kit .
The kit contains Triple-Action Exfoliating Cleanser, Glycolic Acid Professional Body Lotion and a Salux cloth. Use the kit at least twice a week where you have body barnacles and see how quickly your barnacles soften and shrink.
I began using the Ultra-Fast Body Smoothing Kit 3 weeks ago on my keratosis (barnacles!) and I am shocked how effective this is. I have tried everything out there with no luck of even slightest change or healing. I love your product and want to say Thank you. My skin thanks you. I searched so long to find something to help. I am a nurse and work with teens in a city school.
Can age spots be treated with procedures?
Patients with lots of big, crusty age spots still need me to freeze away the larger ones.
However, when patients have been using my Ultra-Fast Body Smoothing Kit, I generally find their skin grows fewer of these crusty age spots. If they do grow, they’re smaller, smoother and easier to treat. The rest of their skin also has a much healthier appearance because they’ve changed their normal bath soap and skin lotion for products that keep their skin softer and more hydrated.
Age spots can also be treated with chemical peels, laser procedures or microdermabrasion. Your dermatologist can advise you whether any of these options are the best choice for you.
How to use my Ultra-Fast Triple Action Body Smoothing Kit
Twice a week, when you shower:
- Squeeze the Triple-Action Exfoliating Cleanser on the Salux cloth and gently massage your skin with it. Go easy in sensitive areas like your skin folds, neck and chest. Pay particular attention to areas with skin barnacles, including the backs of your hands, tops of your feet, behind your knees and back, etc. Rinse well and towel off.
- Natural Face and Body Lotion, in your palm before applying it to your skin. Gradually, as your skin gets healthier, it will be able to handle the glycolic lotion without dilution. Again, skin folds and your neck and chest may be extra sensitive.
On the other 5 days of the week apply a rich body lotion or cream, such as the Natural Face and Body Lotion, within 3 minutes of showering. In the shower you can scrub with the Salux cloth and the Triple-Action Exfoliating Cleanser or your favorite bath soap (mine is my Naturally Best Bar Soap which is fragrance free, non-drying and made with organic natural botanical oils).
As your skin gets healthier you can use the Glycolic Acid Professional Body Lotion more frequently to get even smoother, softer, barnacle-free results.
Why Does this regime work?
The reason my skin care treatment works so well is because it combines strong glycolic acid (‘chemical exfoliation’ power) with the buffing of physical exfoliation.
- Glycolic acid, like other alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), loosens the cement that holds your dead skin cells together. The loose cells buff off easily.
- Glycolic acid (like other AHAs) causes healthy cells to compact which gives your skin a polished, smooth surface. It’s essentially using your own cells to give you a fresh-faced sheen.
- Glycolic acid (and other AHAs) also bind water molecules to your skin for super-powerful hydration that’s far more effective than plain moisturizers or oils.
The result is polished, smooth, hydrated, and healthy skin.
Of course, it's important never to use strong exfoliation or AHAs on broken skin or sores. Any sore that won't heal or new growth that doesn't go away, should be checked by a dermatologist.
Can the Ultra-Fast Body Smoothing Kit help you?
My Ultra-Fast Body Smoothing Kit is a powerful, all-in-one skin barnacles’ treatment - and I’ve seen the results.
Alternating my products with a rich moisturizer, such as my Natural Lotion, really helps to treat and control both my patients’ and my own age spots.
For smooth, soft, evenly-colored skin, learn more about my Ultra-Fast Body Smoothing Triple Action Skin Care Kit.
Author: Dr. Cynthia Bailey M.D. is a board-certified dermatologist who has practiced dermatology since 1987. She has performed well over 200,000 skin examinations during her career. She's the author of the longest running physician-written skin health blog in the world.