The Difference Between Sunspot Skin and Age Spots Plus Removal Options
As you age, so does your skin. Changes in its texture, pigmentation, and color are only natural, this is just the nature of growing older.
One of the most common skin changes is the accumulation of sunspots, also known as age spots or liver spots.
While sunspots and age spots are pretty much the same thing, there are certain variations of age spots to keep a close eye on as you age. Here’s what you should know about sunspot skin and how it can be treated.
Identifying Sunspot Skin
Sunspot skin is caused by long-term exposure to the sun as well as some other factors that go hand-in-hand with aging. For the most part, sunspots or age spots are completely harmless.
However, there are variations of age spots that you should keep a watchful eye on as they can closely resemble more sinister forms of skin abnormalities. The most common of which in today’s day and age is melanoma or skin cancer.
So, how does one identify a harmless sunspot or age spot?
Typically, they are flat, brown spots that form on areas of the skin which is exposed to the sun. They are most likely to appear on thinner areas of the skin, such as the face, forearms, and hands.
Generally, a sunspot is not raised or bumpy. In other words, it should not have any texture, but this can vary depending on the category of age spots.
Categories of Age Spots
Sunspots are non-cancerous and pose no risk to your health. However, an accumulation can begin to change the color or pigment of your skin.
If you have an age spot, it will generally fall into one of these three categories:
Flat or raised spots which range from pale brown to dark brown. These are genetic age spots and can be scaly in texture.
Flat age spots that are tan or dark brown in color. They look similar to freckles and can range in size from small dots to the size of a dime.
Small red dots on the skin, similar in size to a pencil eraser. These are extremely common and caused by an overgrowth of blood vessels under the skin.
How to Spot Melanoma
Melanoma is tricky to identify. This is because it can resemble some of the most common age spots on the skin, such as lentigines or seborrheic keratoses.
Important characteristics to look for include:
- Changes in the existing shape or texture of a mole on the skin
- A raised age spot that is particularly smooth in texture i.e. different from other age spots
- The appearance of new age spots that start off flat and brown in color, but darken and change in shape over time
Alternatively, refer to the ABCs of melanoma identification:
If the growth of an age spot or mole is different on one side than the other, this is cause for concern. In other words, if one side of the age spot or mole is bigger than the other, consult a dermatologist.
Is the border around an age spot or mole irregular, mottled, faded or darker than usual? If so, this is also a suspicious sign.
A normal age spot or mole is one solid color. If you notice an age spot has more than one color, this is telling. As a rule-of-thumb: the darker the color, the more suspicious you should be.
Melanomas are generally larger in diameter than a standard pencil eraser. But this is not always a reliable symptom. Refer to the above symptoms first, before questioning size.
Finally, be aware of the evolution or change of a certain age spot or mole. If it begins itching, bleeding, oozing, or aching, see a dermatologist.
If your dermatologist or doctor is concerned about a certain age spot or mole, they will most likely remove it right away and have the tissue biopsied.
Sunspot and Age Spot Removal Options
In today’s day and age, sunspots can easily be removed with a plethora of professional-grade treatments. Some of the most popular include:
Intense Pulse Light Therapy (IPL)
This popular form of therapy uses intense pulses of light to break down the buildup of melanin under the skin. It’s non-invasive, while each session lasts 30-minutes or less.
Laser Skin Resurfacing
Using a high-powered, wand-like device, the top layers of the skin are resurfaced with thermal energy. This allows the skin to regenerate and regrow, replacing sunspots with smooth, flawless skin. Remember, healing time can take anywhere from 10 to 21 days.
A Chemical Peel
During this form of therapy, a professional-grade skin acid is applied to your sunspots, causing the top layer of skin to peel away. This reveals fresh, new skin below, free from pigmentation and sunspots.
Chemical peels can cause burning and skin irritation. So be sure to speak to your dermatologist before going ahead with this treatment.
This is yet another quick, non-invasive skin treatment for age spots. Liquid nitrogen or nitrous oxide is applied to problem areas with moles, sunspots and other lesions to freeze off the pigmentation.
This is an abrasive skin treatment that is carried out with a small wand-like device that is applied across problem areas of the skin. It removes the outermost layer of the skin, followed by a suctioning treatment to remove dead skin cells.
There is very little pain or discomfort associated with this treatment, but skin redness and sensitivity may occur post-treatment.
A device fitted with minute needles is used in this cosmetic procedure. The needles prick the skin to stimulate and induce the production of collagen.
Ultimately, this encourages a smoother, firmer skin texture. It’s a brilliant treatment to help with the appearance of age spots, acne scarring, fine lines, and wrinkles.
Find Expert Skin Restoration
If you have sunspot skin that you’d like taken care of, we are your go-to.
Aside from age spot removal, we offer fat removal, tattoo removal, cellulite reduction therapy, and more. Get in touch with our clinic today to schedule your next appointment for beautiful, sunspot-free skin.