What happened? One minute we were shouting, Never trust anyone over 30! and now were shouting, Whered all these age spots come from?
The Lily-Livered Truth
Most of us baby-boomers refused to believe wed actually age as we grew older. Despite our delusional denial, here we are staring lines, wrinkles, and age spots in the face - literally!
Too Much Fun In The Sun
Once characterized as liver spots, because of their similar pigment, the truth is that age spots have little to do with our livers. The primary cause of age spots is excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun, so says the American Academy of Dermatology.
The sad reality is that despite warnings from dermatologists, and sunscreen manufacturers, most of us loved the sun too much to be prudent. The results: concentrated deposits of melanin that become age spots.
Although on occasion they may be associated with skin cancer, age spots rarely pose a health risk. In fact the only real damage they do is usually to your ego. Connect these unsightly little dots and theyll spell out Hey, world! Im old.
Very distinctive and symmetrical, they are usually flat, round patches of black or brown pigment. More often than not, they appear on the neck, hands, face, feet, back, and other skin surfaces we inadvertently bake in the sun.
They are more prevalent in people over the age of 50 - which makes sense because weve had more time to work on our tans. The ultraviolet rays from tanning beds may be equally culpable. People with fair skin are more vulnerable.
Patients whove endured chronic or debilitating illnesses often develop them as well.
And among smokers, the predisposition to develop age spots is greatly increased - yet another reason to quit smoking.
A Ray Of Hope
You can prevent age spots by avoiding the sun when its rays are most intense - between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. If you have to be out and about during those hours - particularly at the beach, apply sunscreen half an hour before going out and reapply every couple of hours. Indeed, if your skin is fair or if your job keeps you outside for much of the day, sunscreen should be a part of your daily skincare routine.
Be sure it has a sunscreen protection factor or SPF of 15 and contains both UVA and UVB protection. [By the way, UVA stands for Ultraviolet A; UVB refers to Ultraviolet B, both of which can penetrate and damage the upper layers of the skin.]
And while youre upgrading your daily ablutions, you can also update your wardrobe with long-sleeve tops and pants for addition skin protection. In the summer, cotton garments are particularly efficient in covering, cooling, and ventilating the body.
Correcting The Dots
While you can certainly buy creams, lotions, and other expensive potions, the most effective solutions are probably in your kitchen. Applying lemon juice to age spots twice daily for six to eight weeks can bleach them into oblivion.
A mushy paste of onion and apple cider vinegar may not sound very appetizing, but it can eat away those age spots if applied daily over five to six months. And drinking a little of that vinegar mixed with honey may be more palatable and equally as effective.
Other effective topical applications are castor oil, papaya, aloe vera, buttermilk, and even garlic.
The Wisdom Of Self-Examination
Of course, because melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, you should be mindful of spots - particularly raised or misshapen ones. If during a self-examination you find such a blemish, have it evaluated by your dermatologist just to be on the safe side.
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