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Putting Your Best Face Forward

As people age, chances are high that they will develop brown spots. Also, called age spots, liver spots, or sun spots and medically known as seborrhoeic keratoses and lentigos, they can appear on the face, neck, shoulders, back of the hands, arms, and back. The result of excess melanin (pigment cells) triggered by exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, tanning beds, or sunlamps, they are often a source of embarrassment leading people to consult with skin specialists, such as dermatologists.

There are several effective treatments that can be provided a dermatologist, including:

Bleaching Creams – Most effective for lightly colored brown spots, bleaching creams that contain hydroquinone are considered the Rolls-Royce of creams, however, they can be irritating to sensitive skin. Creams that contain kojic acid, licorice extract, or Vitamin C are less irritating, but also less effective. Best results are to be had by using a cream containing a combination of these components. The primary goal of these creams is to fade the spots enough that they blend into the surrounding skin.

Illustration for article titled Putting Your Best Face Forward em/em

Chemical Peels – A time-tested method of removing brown spots utilizes a mild acid applied to the skin which removes the top layer so that healthier skin can replace it. The skin will be pink for a few months but will return to its normal tone afterwards. This method usually requires several sessions before the brown spot becomes unnoticeable.

Laser Therapy – Lasers and IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) devices have dramatically altered how dermatologists address many skin conditions. The light specifically targets the pigment cells of melanin and melanocyte by passing through the epidermis causing the cells to break apart so that they can be absorbed into the body later. Although the procedure is painless, it can be uncomfortable, as patients report that the pulse of the light feels like being snapped with a rubber band. Within minutes of being targeted, the brown spot will turn crusty and fall off in about week, revealing pink skin that recedes in a week or two before returning to its normal hue.

The best way to prevent brown spots is to avoid skin damage by the sun. Always wear sun screen when outside, especially after undergoing any treatment for brown spot removal. If you observe the beginning of an age spot switch to a sunscreen product with a higher SPF value. It is also recommended to avoid tanning booths or beds.

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