Sun spots (age spots), also known as lentigines, are harmless, flat, brown discolorations of the skin which usually occur on the back of the hands, neck and face of people older than 40 years of age. These spots more than anything else, give away a person's age. Sun spots are caused by the skin being exposed to the sun over many years and are a sigh of sun damage. If you do not believe that these brown, ugly marks on the back of your hands and face are caused by sunlight, look at the skin on your inner thigh. You will see that the skin of the inner thigh is completely devoid of age spots. Sun spots are harmless and do not need to be treated unless they are changing or getting bigger than the surrounding sun spots.
The only way to prevent age spots is to use liberal amounts of sunscreen before the age of forty, avoid the sun, and wear protective clothing. These measures will also help prevent the formation of skin cancer and wrinkles.
While age spots are largely unavoidable, you can help reduce them by avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun and by protecting your skin with sunscreens when you are in the sun. Yesterday's beach goddess tan is tomorrow's blight of brown spots and leathery skin -- or worse, skin cancer.
One option for age spot removal is alpha hydroxy acid gel and beta hydroxy acid gel. The gel is applied to the spots each night. This will lighten discoloration of the skin such as freckles, age spots and pigmentation that may occur in pregnancy or from the use of oral contraceptives.
Another treatment option for age spot removal is Retin-A. Retin-A cream is applied to the spots once a day for six months. This will cause lightening of large age spots and will make small ones disappear.
Age spots can also be treated with alpha hydroxyacid peels. This involves applying a mild acid to the skin and then allowing the skin to heal. Chemical peels work best in people with blue eyes and light hair, but can be effective in all skin types. This is the second fastest way to get rid of age spots.
Non-ablative laser (Fotofacial) is the quickest and safest way to get rid of age spots.