Friday, March 14, 2014

What are age spots? How to prevent age spots?

apply sunscreen before going out into the sun
image credit - freedigitalphotos

Age spots are flat spots on the skin that may be black or brown in color. Age spots are also known as liver spots or solar lentigines. They are pigmented spots that have a high number melanocytes concentrated in one region of the skin.

Age spots appear on the hands, legs, neck, shoulders, face - the areas that are most exposed to the sun. 

Melanocytes are cells that have melanin. Melanin is a natural coloring pigment that gives the color to the skin. Age spots occur when these pigments turn a darker color due to long periods of exposure to the harmful UV rays of the sun.

Age spots affect the outer layer of the skin. They occur in the area of the skin that is most exposed to the sun like the face, hands and legs.

What are the causes of age spots?

  1. Age spots appear due to constant exposure to the harsh rays of the sun over a period of time
  2. Using tanning lamps or tanning beds can also be the cause of age spots appearing on the skin
How do age spots form?

The cells of the outermost layer of the skin have pigments called melanocytes that are responsible for the color of the skin.

When the skin is exposed to harsh rays of the sun, the skin starts producing more melanocytes to help protect the lower layers of the skin. This happens on portions of the skin that are constantly exposed to the sun over a period of time.

When the skin starts producing more melanocytes in a particular area, they clump together and appear as age spots.

How to prevent age spots?

1. Apply Sunscreen

The best way to prevent age spots is to wear sunscreen before going out in the sun. Sunscreen protects your skin from the harmful UV rays of the sun. 

Apply a sunscreen that protects you from both the UVA and UVB rays.

UVA (Ultra Violet Radiation A) rays are solar rays of 320 - 400 nanometers. These rays penetrate deep into the skin and cause wrinkles, premature aging, age spots, and sunburn. UVA rays can also cause skin cancer.

UVB (Ultra Violet Radiation B) rays are short-wave solar rays of 290 -320  nanometers. UVB rays penetrate the outer layers of the skin and cause sunburns to a greater extent than UVA rays. These rays can also cause skin cancer.

Apply sunscreen that has an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 30.

2. Try not to go out into the sun between 10 am and 4 pm because the sun's rays are very harsh and cause maximum damage to the skin during this time.

3. Protect yourself by wearing a wide-brimmed hat or carry an umbrella.

4. Do not wear thin clothing that allows sun rays to reach your skin very quickly.

5. Wear sunscreen even during winter season.

6. Do not forget the sunscreen when you are going out to the beach. After swimming wipe dry and remember to apply sunscreen again.

Point to Note

Makeup with SPF does not provide adequate sun protection because it lasts for only two hours. 


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