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Age Spots & Barnacles

By Cynthia Bailey MD.

Dermatologist explains what are brown age spots, and how to treat them at home?

There are 2 different types of brown 'age spots',

  1. Solar lentigo, or solar lentigines when there is more than one. These are also called sun spots or liver spots. The freckles are caused by many years of sun exposure. The pigment cells in the skin have produced excess pigment that is held in both the living layer of the skin, called the epidermis, and the dead cell layer above that, called the stratum corneum.
  2. Seborrheic keratosis. Some people call these barnacles. These spots are composed of both pigment and excess living and dead cell thickness. It is why these spots are often rough, raised and crusty, hence the name barnacle! Some seborrheic keratosis are more pink than brown because they have less pigment. 

What part of the your skin is prone to brown age spots?

Solar lentigines are seen on sun exposed skin. They are common on the back of the hands, the sides of the face, arms, balding scalp and any place that has had significant lifetime sun exposure.

Seborrheic keratosis occure anywhere. We don’t typically consider them induced by sun exposure but I have seen many patients over my 30+ years of doing full skin exams for skin cancer detection, who have more seborrheic keratosis on skin that also has sun damage. Most notably, the lower back bathing suit area of women, as compared to their buttocks skin. These crusty age spots also like to group in skin folds. We don’t know what causes these age spots.

How can you treat age spots and barnacles with your skin care products?

Since both types of brown age spots have excess pigment, using creams and products that lighten pigment will help. Exfoliating the dead cells will lighten the amount of pigment too since dead cells hold pigment in these growths. The best products to lighten age spots on both face and body include Glycolic Acid Face Creams and Glycolic Acid Body Lotions. Adding exfoliation when you cleanse your skin by using a facial scrub, general exfoliation cleanser or a exfoliating facial sponge or shower cloth will help.

Other products that lighten skin color include my Pigment Fading Pads, which are great for face, neck, chest and hand spots. Vitamin C Serum and Retinol Night Cream will help too.

Sun protection is important. Broad spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen should be worn on all exposed skin daily. Hats, clothing and shade are important protection too.

For more information on body age spot care click here.

For anti-aging facial skin care, including management of age spots and uneven skin pigment, click here. Otherwise, see below for the complete collection of products that are helpful for reducing age spots on the body or the face. Many are bundled into my skin care kits that combine synergistic products to speed results.