Canadian Living: What are age spots?
Dr. Upitis: Age spots are the result of solar exposure. They are flat, brown marks that are found on sun-exposed areas of the body. Women find them most often on their face, neck, décolletage and hands.
CL: What can women do to prevent age spots?
Dr. Upitis: Age spots are a direct result of sun exposure, so the best way to prevent them is by wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen. I wear SPF 30 365 days a year. There are plenty of great moisturizing creams on the market now with sunscreen in them, so that's an easy way to protect against them.
If you know you're going to be outside in the sun, you can also wear a sunscreen with a higher SPF number, put on a hat, and try and avoid being in the sun during peak hours of the day.
CL: Can women treat age spots at home, or should they seek a dermatologist's help?
Dr. Upitis: Women should confirm that a lesion is benign with a visit to a skin specialist. Once the lesion is confirmed to be an age spot, there are plenty of ways to treat it.
CL: What are some of the best methods for treating age spots?
Dr. Upitis: Treatments at home include creams with vitamin C, retinols and bleaching ingredients in them. Hydroquinone is another ingredient in creams that can help reduce the appearance of age spots.
Quite a few women choose to come into the office for treatment of their age spots. There are numerous options depending on the person's finances and their lifestyle (how much "downtime" they can handle).
Treatment with a profractional laser is the Cadillac of treatment options and requires the most downtime. Less expensive and less invasive options include photo facials, chemical peels, prescription creams and spot treatments using liquid nitrogen.
CL: What are some of the most common misconceptions about age spots?
Dr. Upitis: A lot of women don't realize that age spots are sun-related, and are not a natural process of aging. Other lesions look similar to age spots, but with very subtle differences. It's important for women to get checked by a specialist to make sure the spots are benign.
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