As we age, we begin to see the affects of environmental pollution and sun exposure on our skin. Sunscreen can help to prevent pigmentation on the skin, but, when not used consistently or with extreme episodes of sun exposure one can alter the pigmentation of their skin resulting in “age spots”, medically known as solar lentingo.
Solar lentingo are usually harmless (benign) and show up as tan to dark brown coloured spots or lesions. The spots arise due to increased activity of epidermal melanocytes, the skin cells that contain melanin -the pigment that gives skin it’s colour. It is important to see your physician when new spots appear, as they can be similar in appearance to melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer. People with fairer skin are more likely to get melanoma.
Artificial UV rays have been linked by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be a human carcinogen.
Tan to dark brown spots or lesions on areas of the skin normally exposed to sunlight or UV rays. It is important to tell your doctor if you think you might have age spots to ensure that they are harmless.
Age spots are considered by some a part of life and by others as imperfections that they wish to rid themselves of. If you already have age spots, you have a higher chance of developing malignant melanoma, a form of skin cancer.
Take precautions to prevent melanoma from developing by:
- Reducing sun exposure to the area by wearing hats or lots of sunscreen
- Avoiding tanning salons and indoor tanning beds
- Avoid intentionally tanning altogether
There are quick, effective methods of treating age spots to return skin to its natural pigmentation.
Intense Pulsed Laser (IPL) and light therapy can be used to penetrate deeply into the skin and selectively destroy specific structures in the skin while minimizing damage to the skin. The light energy penetrates into the age spot and rejuvenates the skin. This kind of therapy is effective long-term if the skin that was treated is protected from the sun following the treatment.
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