Age spots on hand

1. Lemon juice

Using lemon juice to combat age spots is really a no-brainer. The citric acid and vitamin C in lemon make it the perfect natural bleaching agent. Test your skin first to see if you are sensitive to lemon juice at full strength. If the pure lemon juice is too harsh for your skin, you can dilute it with water.

Take one lemon, water and a cotton ball. Squeeze the lemon into a bowl and add equal parts of water. Use the cotton ball to apply the mixture directly to the areas with dark spots on your face and hands. Leave on for about 20 minutes and then rinse with water, but don’t use soap. Do this at least a couple of nights a week to allow the lemon juice time to fade the spots and even out your skin tone.

2. Potato

The starch and sugar in potatoes can work wonders on the skin due to their exfoliating ability to remove dead skin and boost the growth of new cells. The potato’s vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B6, potassium, zinc, vitamin C and phosphorus, all work to rejuvenate the collagen in your skin.

To use a potato on dark spots, just cut the potato into thin slices. Take the slices and apply a little water to moisten, and then place it on your skin over the age spots. Leave it on for about 10 minutes. You can apply potato to your skin every day. It’s that mild, and it’s best to apply at night to give the vitamins and minerals a chance to work on your skin tone.

3. Cucumber

The wonderful properties of cucumbers have been used for years to moisturize the skin, and they are also a cool and soothing cover for your eyes while relaxing on spa days. Cucumbers have a high water content, contain antioxidants and multiple vitamins, and can be used against several skin discolorations including dark circles and acne scars.

You can slice a cucumber, rub the juice from the vegetable on the dark spots and leave the slices on your skin for about 20 minutes. You can also create a cucumber mixture listed on Put one cucumber, a half-teaspoon of aloe vera gel and a tablespoon of lemon juice into a blender. Blend the ingredients to a pulp and apply to your face and hands where needed. Leave on for 30 minutes and wash off with just water, no soap. The suggestion is to use this mixture daily.

4. Oatmeal

It’s not just a breakfast food anymore. Oatmeal is great for exfoliation and clearing away dead skin cells. It also has an anti-inflammatory quality and can be soothing to irritated skin. To make a gentle, exfoliating mixture that can reduce the appearance of age spots, combine 3 tablespoons of oatmeal, 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 tablespoon of milk in a bowl to make a paste. Apply to your face and hands and leave it on until it dries completely, then rinse off with just water. The oatmeal exfoliates, the honey moisturizes and the milk works to remove the dark spots. You can apply this mixture three times a week.

5. Buttermilk

Milk, yogurt and buttermilk all contain high amounts of lactic acid, which can exfoliate and lighten the skin. Their vitamin D, vitamin B12 and lactic acid can remove the dead skin cells and lighten pigmentation. Vitamin A, vitamin B6 and biotin can boost collagen production. You can apply buttermilk or yogurt directly to the skin to fight age spots. Saturate cotton balls with the milk to make it easier to apply. Leave it on for about 20 minutes before rinsing off. You can use milk or yogurt on the skin daily or until you see the results you are looking for.

6. Honey

Used in medicine and cosmetics for thousands of years, honey has many beneficial qualities for the skin. Honey is a natural antibacterial agent, is full of antioxidants and is credited with slowing down aging. The best honey is one that contains over 80 percent sugar. It will act as an exfoliator to remove dead pigmented skin and will also facilitate the growth of healthy new cells. For best results use raw or organic honey. Raw honey contains all of the nutrients that are beneficial to your skin. Apply the honey with your fingertips, rub into the skin and leave on for 20 minutes. Honey is so mild that it can be used daily or until you see results.

7. Orange peel

Don’t throw out your orange peels. They contain high levels of vitamin C and calcium. Their vitamins and antioxidants can rejuvenate the skin and create new skin cells while fighting free radicals. Orange peels can draw toxins and impurities out of your skin and lighten the dark pigmented areas. Apply the juice from the orange peel directly to the age spots. Let it dry for about 20 minutes and rinse off with water.

Nothing says “welcome to middle age” like age spots, especially when they show up on your hands. They give your years away at first handshake and seem to multiply in record time.

But what are those pesky marks, anyway? Also known as liver spots, sun spots, or solar lentigines, age spots are extra specks of pigment caused by too much exposure to the sun’s powerful ultraviolet rays, explains Noelani González, MD, board-certified dermatologist and director of cosmetic dermatology at Mount Sinai West in New York. That’s because UV rays cause our skin cells to produce melanin (which are responsible for skin pigment) in hyper-speed. The result? Age spots. These can appear flat and brownish in color, or even as raised, wart-like growths known as seborrheic keratosis.

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That’s why applying (and reapplying) sunscreen regularly is the best over-the-counter method to minimize the look of age spots—and prevent future ones from popping up. And the hands are often-neglected here: In one 2013 study, researchers found that, of the 214 beachgoers surveyed, less than half of them applied sunscreen to the back of their hands, although women did so more than men.

Sunscreen not only keeps your hands looking younger for longer, but also protects you from serious health issues, like skin cancer (particularly squamous cell carcinoma, which is known to develop on the back of the hands, per the study above).

But in addition to sunscreen, what can you do once the aging process has already started? The skin care aisle is bursting with products that promise to return your hands to their former glory, while in-office treatments have become more advanced than ever. We reached out to top dermatologists to, well, give us a hand. Here are their top suggestions.

How to get rid of age spots on your hands

Ake NgiamsanguanGetty Images

1. OTC lightening creams and serums

If you’re hoping for something that will make your hands look like you dipped them in the fountain of youth, you won’t find it in a cream or serum. No over-the-counter treatment will make your age spots disappear completely, according to Marina Peredo, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York.

However, some creams and serums will lighten spots, but they’re most effective on those that are caught early and haven’t developed deep pigmentation yet. Here are a few effective ingredients to look for:

  • Hydroquinone
  • Tranexamic acid
  • Glycolic acid
  • Kojic acid
  • Licorice root extract
  • Niacinamide
  • Vitamin C

There are tons of options on the market, but the dermatologists we talked to recommend the products below for lightening age spots:

SkinMedica Lytera 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum $154.00 SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense $98.00 Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum $72.00 Obagi Professional-C Serum 10% $85.00

When you find a cream or serum you like, apply it directly to the age spots with your fingertips. Just make sure that any unusual skin spots (like those that have a darker surrounding ring) are checked out by your dermatologist for skin cancer before you try any lightening techniques.

2. Prescription creams

While they still won’t make every dark spot invisible, prescription treatments can lighten spots even better than over-the-counter medications. Dr. Peredo suggests Tri-Luma, a topical cream that lightens, exfoliates, and reduces inflammation in the skin on your hands and face. While it’s meant to be used for eight weeks, some people see improvements within a month.

Two other commonly prescribed treatments include hydroquinone (which slows the production of melanin) and tretinoin (a retinol cream that reduces pigmentation and evens skin texture), according to Ariel Ostad, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City. Side effects can include itching, redness, or dryness, but are typically minimal.

3. Intense-pulsed light (IPL)

“Hands down, the easiest and most effective option for age spots is IPL,” says Anthony Youn, MD, board-certified plastic surgeon and author of The Age Fix. “This destroys the pigment, causing the age spot to turn darker and slough off after about a week,” he explains. The treatment has no downtime and is pretty much pain free, but may require up to four session for the best results.

4. Cryotherapy

Best for single age spots or small clusters of them, your derm will apply liquid nitrogen (a freezing agent) to your skin during this in-office procedure. “This freezes and destroys the pigment-making cells, causing the spots to flake off,” says Dr. González. Once your skin starts to heal, it will appear lighter, but a few treatments may be necessary.

5. Chemical peels

A chemical peel involves your dermatologist applying an acid to the area, which burns the outer layer of your skin. As this layer of skin sheds and peels, a new, healthier layer will form. The depth and frequency of these peels will vary depending on the severity of your age spots and the type of acid used. Side effects can range from none to a few days of peeling and dryness, says New Jersey-based board-certified dermatologist Shari Sperling, DO.

6. Laser treatments

Certain treatments can effectively target age spots on the hands—and can’t wash off like a cream. One popular option is PicoWay, which uses ultra-short, picosecond (trillionths of a second) pulses to break down melanin pigment into tiny particles. The pigment is then eliminated naturally by the body.

This option typically comes with less pain and fewer treatments, so “patients appreciate the minimal down time and the quickness of the procedure,” says Andrew Menkes, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of The Menkes Clinic in Mountain View, CA. It’s so painless, he doesn’t have to use a numbing agent before administering a treatment. It is pricey though, ranging from $450 to $750 per treatment.

Although lasers have become much safer over the years, they can carry the risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH)—darkening or lightening of the skin—depending on your skin color, tone, and location of your age spots. Any laser treatment can cause PIH, especially if you’re not careful about staying out of the sun or using sunscreen after treatment.

Additional reporting and writing by Vivian Manning-Schaffel and Kasandra Brabaw

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Krissy Brady Krissy is a regular contributor to Prevention, and she also writes for Cosmopolitan, Weight Watchers, Women’s Health,,, and

Together with the skin around the eye area, our hands are the biggest age-betrayers. Exposed to UV light on a daily basis, frequently washed and rarely lavished with the same attention, time and money as our faces, hands can look veiny and crepey before their time. Worst of all in our book are age or liver spots – so what can you do to get rid of them?

Of course, the dull-but-true key is prevention, which means wearing sunscreen every day. Even in winter.

Protecting the skin on your hands in this way should give existing dark spots a chance to fade and help prevent new ones forming.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) also works a treat at getting rid of them if you have the budget (then be vigilant with sunscreen afterwards, otherwise you will have wasted your money).

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There’s also a new cosmetic treatment that’s caught our eye and we think it’s rather good. The unglamorously named Spotner is a pen applicator with SPF50 and some great anti-pigmentation ingredients, including undecylenoyl phenylalanine (also called Sepiwhite), which controls the formation and dispersion of melanin, and Gigawhite, a plant-derived skin lightener.

I’ve been using it on one hand for the past three weeks and can already see a difference. My dark spots have faded noticeably. Good value at £19.99.

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Age Spots

Age spots aren’t dangerous and don’t cause any health problems. Treatment isn’t necessary, but some people want to remove age spots because of their appearance.

Prescription medications

Your healthcare provider may prescribe bleaching creams to fade the age spots gradually. These usually contain hydroquinone, with or without retinoids such as tretinoin. Bleaching creams usually take several months to fade age spots.

Bleaching and tretinoin creams make your skin more sensitive to UV damage. You will need to wear sunscreen at all times during treatment and continue to wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days, after fading the spots.

Medical procedures

There are several medical procedures that can remove or reduce age spots. Each medical procedure carries a risk of side effects and complications. Ask your dermatologist, plastic surgeon, or skin care professional about which treatment is the most appropriate for your skin.

Medical procedures for age spots include:

  • intense pulsed light treatment, which emits a range of light waves that passes through the skin and targets melanin to destroy or breakup the spots
  • chemical peels, which remove the outer layer of your skin so new skin can grow in its place
  • dermabrasion, which smooths off the outer layers of the skin so new skin can grow in its place
  • cryosurgery, which freezes individual age spots with liquid nitrogen

Always wear sunscreen after treatment to protect your healing skin from UV damage and to prevent the reoccurrence of the spots.

There are many over-the-counter creams available that are marketed for removing age spots. However, these creams aren’t as strong as prescription creams. They may or may not effectively remove your excess skin pigmentation. If you want to use an over-the-counter cream, choose one that contains hydroquinone, deoxyarbutin, glycolic acid, alpha hydroxy acid, or kojic acid.

Cosmetics don’t remove age spots. Instead, they cover them. Ask your dermatologist, plastic surgeon, or makeup counter salesperson to recommend brands that effectively conceal age spots.

Nonmelanoma skin cancer may cause the following symptoms:

  • Spots or bumps that grow over time (a few months to a year or two) or that appear as a sore that does not heal within three months.
  • Basal cell carcinomas may appear as flat, firm, pale areas or small, raised, translucent, pink or red, shiny, waxy areas with visible blood vessels or depressed center areas that bleed when slightly injured.
  • Large basal cell carcinomas have oozing, crusty areas.
  • Squamous cell carcinomas may look like small lumps with an uneven, rough surface or flat reddish patch that slowly grows.

Melanoma skin cancer may appear as

  • Spots, sores, lumps, blemishes or markings on the skin that change in shape, size or color.
  • Skin may become reddish, crusty or scaly.
  • Skin may ooze, bleed or swell or may feel painful, scratchy or tender.

Causes and Risk Factors

The following factors increase your risk of getting skin cancer:

Frequent exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. Sunlight is the main source of this exposure. Tanning lamps and tanning booths are other sources of UV radiation.

Fair skin. Caucasians are 20 times more likely to develop skin cancer than African Americans. Fair-skinned individuals with red or blonde hair and skin that freckles or burns easily are also at greater risk.

50 years or older. Half of all melanoma cases occur in this age group. However, some melanoma cases also occur in people age 20 to 30 years. In fact, the most common cancer among people under 30 years old is melanoma.

Family history. Individuals whose immediate relatives (mother, father, sister, brother, child) have been diagnosed with melanoma are considered at high risk. About 10% of melanoma cases show a family history of the disease.

Reduced immunity. Individuals who have received medications that suppress the immune system, such as organ transplant recipients, are more likely to develop melanoma.

Male gender. Men are two times more likely than women to develop basal cell carcinoma and three times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma.

Exposure to chemicals. Arsenic (an ingredient in pesticides), paraffin, industrial tar, coal and certain types of oil may increase risk.

Exposure to radiation. Individuals who have undergone radiation treatment are at risk to develop nonmelanoma skin cancer in the irradiated area.

Severe skin injury. Scarring from burns, bone infections and other severe inflammatory skin diseases are risk factors.

Psoriasis treatment. Patients receiving psoralen and UV light treatments (PUVA) may be at risk.

Most people have moles, which are generally harmless. However, certain types can change in appearance, color or size and develop into melanoma. To distinguish between a normal mole and a melanoma, use the ABCD rule:

Asymmetry – Half the mole looks different from the other half

Border – The edges of the mole are irregular or ragged

Color – Moles are non-uniform in color, and

Diameter – Normal moles are typically smaller than six millimeters (a quarter inch) in diameter. Melanomas are generally bigger, although recently doctors have seen melanomas between three and six millimeters in diameter.

Ah, the sun — our beloved source of light, warmth, and vitamin D. If only it didn’t have such destructive effects on your skin.

Age spots, or the benign, light-brown flat spots that pop up on your skin as you age, are a bit of a misnomer. While they do develop over time, they’re often the result of the sun. The technical term is a solar lentigo. Jerome Garden, MD, a professor of clinical dermatology at Northwestern University Medical School, explains.

What are age spots, and does the sun alone cause them?

Garden: Age spots are common benign skin spots with clearly defined edges on your face or other sun-exposed areas. They usually form due to exposure to the sun. Other sources of UV light, such as tanning beds, can also be a source. Some types of spots and growths also occur as we age, which people may refer to as age spots. All of these should be evaluated by a dermatologist to rule out a more serious type of pigmented spot.

What at-home treatments are available, and do they work?

Garden: Most over-the-counter skin lighteners contain a retinoid or hydroquinone ingredient, which can be mildly effective in some patients. But long-term hydroquinone use — beyond a few months — may result in darkening of the skin, and retinoids may be irritating to sensitive skin, so they should be monitored by a dermatologist. If you don’t see the results you want, a dermatologist can prescribe a prescription-strength cream.

What in-office treatments can I try?

Garden: The most effective treatment is a laser that specifically targets pigment. After one or two treatments, it can significantly lighten and even remove brown spots. But lasers have potential risks, including burns, scars, and color change, so they should only be used by a trained physician. Another procedure is cryotherapy, which uses liquid nitrogen to injure the cells in the age spot. It can be a bit painful, but very quick. Risks include scarring and skin lightening or darkening, but they’re low when performed by your dermatologist.

Beauty portrait of a woman cleaning her face (iStock)

As you get older, you likely will notice parts of your skin changing color to light brown, gray or black — a common effect the beauty industry calls age spots, also called liver spots or sun spots.

“With age, and exposure to environmental triggers like UV light, our pigment-producing cells in the skin go into overdrive,” dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner told Fox News. “That leads to an increased production of pigments, which leads to dark spots in the skin.”


Those discolorations can do a number on our self-confidence, but the good news is, certain techniques can help banish them.

Fox News spoke with Zeichner and Dr. Mary Stevenson, an assistant professor in the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center, for their best tips on getting rid of age spots:

1. Use protective creams to nourish the skin.
To help return your skin to its normal color, opt for skin-brightening sunscreens. Zeichner suggested products from theAveeno Positively Radiant line, which contain soy, an ingredient that can calm and lighten age spots.


To avoid further damage, apply an antioxidant cream with ingredients like vitamins and E, which can help reduce inflammation in the skin, Zeichner said. He explained these products can prevent interfering with collagen, a protein that prevents wrinkles, and halt further pigment production.

2. Look for over-the-counter products that can lighten dark spots.
Creams with ingredients like hydroquinone, kojic acid, niacinamide, and arbutin all interfere with pigment production, Zeichner explained.

These are all bleaching agents, but Stevenson cautioned they may not be effective for every patient, so she advised consulting your dermatologist before using one.


3. See a dermatologist for a laser treatment.
Targeted laser treatments can destroy the pigment of specific age spots, similar to how tattoo removal lasers work, Zeichner explained.

4. Go for a chemical peel.
A chemical peel is a mild acid that, when applied, damages the outer skin layer, Zeichner said. The healing process that follows eliminates some of the skin’s darker pigmentation.


5. Schedule an office visit for cryosurgery.
Dermatologists can use liquid nitrogen to freeze the cells of your age spot, helping to destroy it, Stevenson said.

6. Remember: Prevention is always the best cure.
“The best treatment is prevention to begin with,” Zeichner said. Stevenson agreed, noting that sunscreens with physical blockers like zinc oxide can help protect the skin.

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  • Liver spots can be frustrating but if want to know how to get rid of them, you’ve come to the right place! Here’s everything you need to know about liver spots, why they happen and how to erase them.

    Liver spots, dark spots, brown spots: Whatever you call them, those pesky dark marks are annoying and we want to get rid of them!

    According to a survey conducted by Boots No 7, of the 1,000 women over the age of 40 they spoke to, the factor that caused them the same amount of bother as wrinkles was, yep, you guessed it, liver spots, with 36% revealing that age spots worried them.

    Technically known as a type of ‘hyper-pigmentation’, liver spots occur when the melanin in your skin overproduces in certain areas, causing spots or patches that look darker than the rest of your skin to form.

    Although hyper-pigmentation is not dangerous, one of the major causes of liver spots is, so it’s worth knowing what the causes are to ensure you’re looking after your skin the best you can, and to prevent more marks appearing.

    If you’re fed up with the way liver spots look then don’t worry, there are also a few treatments and products you can try to diminish the look of them too.

    Do I have liver spots?

    Dr Hadi Abushaira, a renowned Senior Consultant Dermatologist, says liver spots can appear in many places: ‘They’re most often found on the face, hands and forearms, and are larger and more defined than freckles,’ he says.

    Media for Medical / Contributor

    Liver spots are larger and more defined than freckles, and can often be found on hands

    Causes of liver spots

    Sun exposure

    Liver spots may become lighter during the winter months, when skin is less exposed to the sun.

    Many people note that one of the main cause of liver spots is ‘old age’, which is technically true, but really it means many years exposed to UV light from the sun. (Using a sun bed can have the same effect, so liver spots can be just as common in younger people too).

    This is because UV light speeds up the production of melanin, creating a tan, which helps protect the deeper layers of skin from the sun’s UV rays. Liver spots are caused when the melanin gathers in one area, or is produced in particularly high concentrations.

    An increase in oestrogen (from pregnancy or the contraceptive pill) can make you more susceptible to liver spots, but the brown marks are still mainly caused by sun exposure.

    Genetics can also play a part in the formation of liver spots, so even if you’ve been careful in the sun, you may find them difficult to avoid.

    Liver spots are common in people over 40, but younger people can get them too if their skin is over exposed to the sun. They’re harmless, but it’s important to keep an eye on spots that are dark or change in appearance, as this could be a sign of melanoma, a form of skin cancer. ‘If you are in doubt about your brown skin lesion, then you should seek dermatological advise’, says Dr Hadi.

    Preventing liver spots

    The best way to prevent liver spots is to be cautious in the sun. It goes without saying, but if you’re going to be in the sun then reapply sun cream every two hours, and make sure you use at least a factor 30 or above.

    If you’re really concerned about liver spots then you need to be avoiding exposing your skin to high levels of UV as much as you can. Seek shade at the hottest parts of the day and keep skin covered! After all, those with pale skin may not have a tan, but will likely not have liver spots either…

    How to get rid of liver spots


    If you have liver spots then don’t worry, with the right treatments and products they can be lightened or removed. It’s a misconception that dark spots ‘melt away’ – in fact, they need to be moved up and out of the skin, the same as you would with a patch of dry skin or a spot.

    That’s why it’s important to begin with a scrub. A product with Vitamin C is particularly good for dark spot sufferers, as it can help speed up the process of getting rid of the marks. The Body Shop Vitamin C Microdermabrasion scrub contains exfoliating micro particles that can help to scrape away those pesky liver spots.

    It’s also important to make sure you apply SPF daily. Bioderma White Objective fluid not only contains SPF 25, but it works to lighten and even out the surface with a depigmentation action at the same time.

    Finish with a serum specially designed to target dark spots – Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector visibly reduces dark spots, age spots and traces of past acne too!

    Body Shop, Bioderma, Clinique

    The Body Shop Vitamin C Microdermabrasion scrub, Bioderma White Objective fluid and Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector are all great for removing dark spots

    Hands can suffer just as much as faces, after all, they’re often exposed to the sun without us even thinking about applying SPF to them. Slather on Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Visibly Renew hand cream, which makes skin soft and supple, while also helping to prevent new brown spots from forming, thanks to its SPF content.



    They are some more invasive treatments available to get rid of liver spots. ‘Chemical peels, cryotherapy using liquid nitrogen and laser therapy’ are all options according to Dr Hadi, but they come with a price tag. The Skin Laser Clinic provides a treatment to get rid of brown spots that uses a ‘powerful beam of green that shines through the outer layer of the skin.

    The brown pigment absorbs the light energy and gets very hot for a fraction of a second. This is enough to break up the pigment.’ This costs £200 for an initial consultation and between £100-£200 for the treatment, depending on the size of the area.

    Have you got liver spots? Do you have any tips you can share on how to get rid of them? Head over to our Facebook page to join the conversation – we’d love to hear from you!

    Melanoma or Age Spots? How to Tell the Difference

    • Cherry hemangiomas. Small red dots that are smaller than a pencil eraser, these are caused by an overgrowth of blood vessels in the skin. They are common and can appear anywhere, but they are not linked to skin cancer.
    • Lentigines. These are flat, tan-to-dark spots that look similar to freckles. They usually range from the size of a pencil eraser to the size of a dime, but they could be bigger or smaller. These are what most people typically think of as age spots or liver spots. They are usually located on sun-exposed areas of the skin.
    • Seborrheic keratoses. These can be flat or raised and range from pale to dark brown or black. They are often scaly or wart-like, although they are not warts. “They can be due to sunlight, age, and are also genetic,” says Dr. Wolf. People who have many of these skin changes have probably seen them before on a first-degree relative. They are also linked to skin tags, another kind of benign skin growth.

    Melanoma in its early stages can resemble lentigines or, sometimes, seborrheic keratoses. “If a melanoma arises in a pre-existing mole, it is raised and smooth,” says Wolf. “If it arises on normal skin, it starts as a flat brown to black growth, then grows out or down.”

    If a bump grows on a mole or in a previously flat, discolored spot, see your dermatologist right away to get checked for possible skin cancer.

    One reason to call your dermatologist immediately is that if melanoma is diagnosed early, “it can be cured with surgery,” says Wolf. But once it starts to deepen or spread to other parts of your body, melanoma can be difficult to treat.

    If you see a suspicious spot on your skin, run through the ABCs of melanoma, says Wolf. They are:

    • Asymmetry means that the growth is different on one side than on the other. One side is typically bigger.
    • Look at the border. “If it is irregular, that’s a suspicious sign,” says Wolf.
    • The color of the lesion (or growth) is also telling. Lesions with more than one color are suspicious. The darker the lesion, the greater your concern should be.
    • Melanomas tend to be larger in diameter than a pencil eraser. Wolf warns that this guideline isn’t completely reliable, however – melanomas can be very small and still be problematic.
    • Consider the evolution (or change) of your skin spot. Sudden changes, bleeding, itching, and pain all require a doctor’s appointment for further diagnosis.

    When your doctor is concerned about a particular spot, he or she might remove part or all of it and send it off for a biopsy.

    If you simply have age spots, as is the case most often, you have several options if they bother you for cosmetic reasons. A dermatologist can remove or lighten the spots (although insurance might not cover this procedure). Your doctor might recommend freezing the spot, using a chemical peel, or trying a laser treatment. You can also help prevent new ones by using sunscreen regularly.

    This Week’s Question: Do liver spots have anything at all to do with the liver?

    No. This is a common question and a great starting point for a column about all those doohickeys that grow on our skin as we age.

    LIVER SPOTS: The official name for liver or age spots is “lentigines” from the Latin for “lentil.” These are flat, brown with rounded edges and are larger than freckles. They are not dangerous.

    KERATOSES—Seborrheic keratoses are brown or black raised spots, or wart-like growths that appear to be stuck to the skin. They are harmless. Actinic keratoses are thick, warty, rough, reddish growths. They may be a precursor to skin cancer.

    CHERRY ANGIOMAS—These are small, bright-red raised bumps created by dilated blood vessels. They occur in more than 85 percent of seniors, usually on the trunk. These are also not dangerous.

    TELANGIECTASIA—These are dilated facial blood vessels.

    SKIN TAGS—These are bits of skin that project outward. They may be smooth or irregular, flesh colored or more deeply pigmented. They can either be raised above the surrounding skin or have a stalk so that the tag hangs from the skin. They are benign.

    Now we get into the cancers of the skin.

    SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMAS—These are in the outer layers of the skin. They are closely associated with aging. These are capable of spreading to other organs. They are small, firm, reddened nodules or flat growths. They may also be cone-shaped. Their surfaces may be scaly or crusted.

    BASAL CELL CARCINOMAS—These are the most common of the skin cancers. They develop in the basal layer below the surface of the skin. Basal cell carcinomas seldom spread to other parts of the body. They usually appear as small, shiny bumps or pinpoint, red bleeding areas on the head, face, nose, neck or chest.

    MELANOMAS—This is the deadliest form of skin cancer. Melanomas can spread to other organs and can be fatal. They usually appear as dark brown or black mole-like growths with irregular borders and variable colors. They usually arise in a pre-existing mole or other pigmented lesion.

    Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. About half of all Americans who live to 65 will have skin cancer. Although anyone can get skin cancer, the risk is greatest for people who have fair skin.

    Ultraviolet radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer. All skin cancers can be cured if they are treated before they spread. The most common warning sign of skin cancer is a change on the skin, especially a new growth or a sore that doesn’t heal.

    Check your skin often. Look for changes in the size, shape, color, or feel of birthmarks, moles, and spots. And don’t be reluctant to go to a doctor whenever you see anything on your skin that you suspect might be a problem. Dermatologists recommend that, if you are a fair-skinned senior, you should get a full-body skin exam once a year. This kind of check-up isn’t a bad idea for any senior.

    • 5 Things You Must Know about Skin Cancer
    • 40 Years After Moon Landing: Why Can’t We Cure Cancer?
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    The Healthy Geezer column publishes each Wednesday on LiveScience. If you would like to ask a question, please write [email protected] © 2009 by Fred Cicetti.

    Age spots (liver spots)

    Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 21, 2020.

    • Disease Reference


    Age spots are small, flat dark areas on the skin. They vary in size and usually appear on areas exposed to the sun, such as the face, hands, shoulders and arms. Age spots are also called sunspots, liver spots and solar lentigines.

    Age spots are very common in adults older than 50, but younger people can get them if they spend time in the sun.

    Age spots can look like cancerous growths. True age spots don’t need treatment, but they are a sign the skin has received a lot of sun exposure and are an attempt by your skin to protect itself from more sun damage. For cosmetic reasons, they can be lightened or removed.

    You can help prevent age spots by regularly using sunscreen and avoiding the sun.

    Age spots on the shoulder and back

    If you have light skin and spend a lot of time in the sun, you’re more likely to develop age spots — areas of increased pigmentation.


    Age spots may affect people of all skin types, but they’re more common in adults with light skin. Unlike freckles, which are common in children and fade with no sun exposure, age spots don’t fade.

    Age spots:

    • Are flat, oval areas of increased pigmentation
    • Are usually tan to dark brown
    • Occur on skin that has had the most sun exposure over the years, such as the backs of hands, tops of feet, face, shoulders and upper back
    • Range from freckle size to about 1/2 inch (13 millimeters) across
    • Can group together, making them more noticeable

    When to see a doctor

    Age spots don’t require medical care. Have your doctor look at spots that are black or have changed in appearance. These changes can be signs of melanoma, a serious form of skin cancer.

    It’s best to have any new skin changes evaluated by a doctor, especially if a spot:

    • Is black
    • Is increasing in size
    • Has an irregular border
    • Has an unusual combination of colors
    • Is bleeding

    Age spots on the hand

    Age spots may grow in size and group together, giving the skin a speckled or mottled appearance. They’re very common in areas that get repeated sun exposure, such as on the back of the hand.


    Age spots are caused by overactive pigment cells. Ultraviolet (UV) light speeds up the production of melanin, a natural pigment that gives skin its color. On skin that has had years of sun exposure, age spots appear when melanin becomes clumped or is produced in high concentrations.

    Use of commercial tanning lamps and beds also can cause age spots.

    Risk factors

    You might be more likely to develop age spots if you:

    • Have light skin
    • Have a history of frequent or intense sun exposure or sunburn


    To help avoid age spots and new spots after treatment, follow these tips for limiting your sun exposure:

    • Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Because the sun’s rays are most intense during this time, try to schedule outdoor activities for other times of the day.
    • Use sunscreen. Fifteen to 30 minutes before going outdoors, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Apply sunscreen generously, and reapply every two hours — or more often if you’re swimming or perspiring.
    • Cover up. For protection from the sun, wear tightly woven clothing that covers your arms and legs and a broad-brimmed hat, which provides more protection than does a baseball cap or golf visor.

      Consider wearing clothing designed to provide sun protection. Look for clothes labeled with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 40 to 50 to get the best protection.


    Diagnosing age spots might include:

    • Visual inspection. Your doctor can usually diagnose age spots by looking at your skin. It’s important to distinguish age spots from other skin disorders because the treatments differ and using the wrong procedure may delay other needed therapy.
    • Skin biopsy. Your doctor might do other tests, such as removing a small sample of skin for examination in a lab (skin biopsy). This can help distinguish an age spot from other conditions, such as lentigo maligna, a type of skin cancer. A skin biopsy is usually done in a doctor’s office, using a local anesthetic.


    If you want your age spots to be less noticeable, treatments are available to lighten or remove them. Because the pigment is located at the base of the epidermis — the topmost layer of skin — any treatments meant to lighten the age spots must penetrate this layer of skin.

    Age spot treatments include:

    • Medications. Applying prescription bleaching creams (hydroquinone) alone or with retinoids (tretinoin) and a mild steroid might gradually fade the spots over several months. The treatments might cause temporary itching, redness, burning or dryness.
    • Laser and intense pulsed light. Some laser and intense pulsed light therapies destroy melanin-producing cells (melanocytes) without damaging the skin’s surface. These approaches typically require two to three sessions. Wounding (ablative) lasers remove the top layer of skin (epidermis).
    • Freezing (cryotherapy). This procedure treats the spot by using a cotton-tipped swab to apply liquid nitrogen for five seconds or less. This destroys the extra pigment. As the area heals, the skin appears lighter. Spray freezing may be used on a small grouping of spots. The treatment may temporarily irritate the skin and poses a slight risk of permanent scarring or discoloration.
    • Dermabrasion. Dermabrasion sands down the surface layer of skin with a rapidly rotating brush. New skin grows in its place. You may need to undergo the procedure more than once. Possible side effects include temporary redness, scabbing and swelling. It may take several months for pinkness to fade.
    • Microdermabrasion. Microdermabrasion is a less aggressive approach than dermabrasion. It leaves mild skin blemishes with a smoother appearance. You’ll need a series of procedures over months to get modest, temporary results. You may notice a slight redness or stinging sensation on the treated areas. If you have rosacea or tiny red veins on your face, this technique could make the condition worse.
    • Chemical peel. This method involves applying a chemical solution to the skin to remove the top layers. New, smoother skin forms to take its place. Possible side effects include scarring, infection, and lightening or darkening of skin color. Redness lasts up to several weeks. You might need several treatments before you notice any results.

    The age spot therapies that remove skin are usually done in a doctor’s office and don’t require hospitalization. The length of each procedure and the time it takes to see results varies from weeks to months.

    After treatment, when outdoors you’ll need to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 and wear protective clothing.

    Because age spot treatments are considered cosmetic, they typically aren’t covered by insurance. And because the procedures can have side effects, discuss your options carefully with a doctor who specializes in skin conditions (dermatologist). Also, make sure your dermatologist is specially trained and experienced in the technique you’re considering.

    Lifestyle and home remedies

    Many nonprescription fade creams and lotions for lightening age spots are available for sale. These may improve the appearance of age spots, depending on how dark the spots are and how often you apply the cream. You might need to use such a product regularly for several weeks or months before you notice results.

    If you want to try an over-the-counter fade cream, choose one that contains hydroquinone, glycolic acid or kojic acid. Some products, especially those that contain hydroquinone, may cause skin irritation.

    You could also apply makeup to help make age spots less noticeable.

    Preparing for an appointment

    You’re likely to start by seeing your primary care doctor, who may then refer you to a dermatologist.

    Examples of questions your doctor may ask, include:

    • When did you first notice the spots on your skin?
    • Did the spots appear gradually or quickly?
    • Have you noticed any other changes in the appearance of your skin?
    • Is the condition itchy, tender or otherwise bothersome?
    • Have you experienced frequent or severe sunburns?
    • How often are you exposed to the sun or UV radiation?
    • Do you regularly protect your skin from UV radiation?
    • What kind of sun protection do you use?
    • Do you have a family history of age spots or skin cancer?
    • What medications do you take?

    Questions you may want to ask your doctor include:

    • What suspicious changes in my skin should I look for?
    • If the spots are age spots, what can I do to improve the appearance of my skin?
    • Do treatments make them go away completely, or do they just lighten the age spots?
    • Could these spots turn into skin cancer?