Age spots on the face and body: causes and treatment
Pigmented spots are hypermelanosis of the skin, which are formed as a result of increased production of melanin in it. Areas of pigmentation vary in color, shape, location, may be present from birth, or may be acquired. Pigmented spots are not a skin disease, but they are a serious cosmetic defect and in some cases can cause severe discomfort. In addition, the skin, prone to increased pigmentation, ages faster, becomes dry and rough, blood vessels appear through it.
The danger of age spots lies in the fact that malignant neoplasm can be disguised under them, therefore, before starting any type of treatment, you should consult a specialist.
Five pigments are responsible for the color of human skin - these are melanin, melanoidin, carotene, oxyhemoglobin and reduced hemoglobin. All five of these pigments are always present in healthy skin. However, if one of them is absent, or is produced with impairments, then this leads to the formation of areas of pigmentation.
Melanin plays a leading role in the color of the skin. It also protects us from ultraviolet radiation. If too much melanin accumulates in one area or another of the skin, then this leads to the formation of age spots.
- Causes of the appearance of age spots on the face and body
Types of age spots
- Nevi or birthmarks
- Chloasma (melasma)
- Vitiligo and albinism
- Skin Care Tips to Prevent Age Spots
Treatment of age spots on the face and other parts of the body
- Masks, face cream
- Laser removal of age spots on the face
- Cryotherapy for age spots
- Photo removal of age spots
- Mesotherapy for age spots
- Chemical peeling
- How to remove freckles, moles, deep age spots?
- Which doctor should i contact with age spots?
Causes of the appearance of age spots on the face and body
The reasons for the appearance of age spots on the face and body are varied, among them the following can be distinguished:
- Dysfunction of the thyroid gland;
- Such serious pathologies of the endocrine system as Graves' disease, panhypopituitarism, pituitary tumor - all of them are accompanied by the appearance of hyperpigmented areas on the skin of the body and face;
- Disturbances in the functioning of the gallbladder and liver - the organs responsible for the production of hemoglobin and bilirubin;
- Disorders of metabolic processes in the body, diseases of the digestive tract - all this can lead to the formation of age spots;
- Genetic predisposition to the formation of areas of increased pigmentation;
Prolonged sun exposure. Dark spots appear on the skin as a result of the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays. It is ultraviolet rays that are the main reason why pigmented areas appear;
- Disturbances in the functioning of the ovaries;
- Hormonal disorders. Most often, age spots appear during pregnancy, but can be the result of taking hormonal drugs. Most often, those spots that appear as a result of bearing a fetus disappear after childbirth, although they can persist for a long period of time;
- Areas with a violation of pigmentation can occur due to injuries, at the site of burns;
- Various skin pathologies cause the appearance of age spots. For example, a disease such as vitiligo occurs due to the lack of melatonin in some areas of the skin;
- Wearing synthetic clothing, prolonged skin-to-rubber contact;
- Any procedures that violate the integrity of the skin can provoke the appearance of age spots;
- In some cases, age spots occur against the background of mental disorders, for example, they can appear with prolonged depression, psychosis, with neurasthenia;
- Certain medications and the use of unsuitable cosmetics can cause the formation of age spots.
Some chemotherapy drugs can cause hyperpigmentation 
Why do age spots appear on the face?
Most often, age spots appear on the face in the form of freckles. They are medium-sized, oval or round in shape. Their occurrence is due to a genetic factor. The situation is aggravated by excessive exposure to the sun.
Under the influence of ultraviolet rays, melanocytes are activated to protect the skin from the negative effects of the sun. Only in people who do not have a tendency to hyperpigmentation of the skin, the protection of melanocytes appears in the form of sunburn, and in the rest of the people - in the form of age spots. In this regard, being in the sun is contraindicated for them, and if this cannot be avoided, then certain protective measures should be taken.
However, not only genetic predisposition and ultraviolet light are the reasons for the appearance of age spots on the face. All of the above factors (diseases of organs and systems, metabolic disorders, pregnancy, etc.) can provoke such a cosmetic defect.
Types of age spots
There are the following types of age spots:
Freckles are small brown patches of pigmentation that are mostly found on the face and exposed areas of the body. Sometimes this pigmentation can take over the ears, chest, skin of the hands and feet. Freckles are common among people with fair skin and red hair. The appearance of pigmentation is due to excessive sun exposure and genetic predisposition.
The color intensity of freckles can vary depending on the season. This applies to their number and size. Can be seen as light-colored pinpoint spots, no more than a prick mark, and large brown freckles can appear.
By their nature, freckles represent a tan, which is unevenly distributed, and therefore, in the winter season, they can completely disappear. In addition, they become not so bright, as the body adapts to the effects of sunlight on it, learning to distribute them more evenly.
In 2013, a study was conducted on 523 French women: frequent sunburn and a gene known as MC1R (producing melanin) were identified as the main risk factors for developing freckles. 
Freckles do not pose any threat to the health of their owner, moreover, many freckled people do not perceive this phenomenon as a cosmetic defect. In the event that freckles cause psychological discomfort, you can prevent their appearance by using a sunscreen with a powerful UV filter. At the same time, it is necessary to process not only the face, but also the rest of the body, which will be exposed to sunlight.
Freckles are not deep pigmentation, so they are easy to get rid of with fruit and milk peels. However, peels are not able to protect against their recurrence.
Nevi or birthmarks
Moles, birthmarks are the most common type of skin pigmentation. Nevi look like small, evenly outlined hyperpigmented areas on the skin, which are a feature of a particular person. They, like other age spots, appear as a result of uneven distribution of melanin. It is the excessive accumulation of melanocytes that makes the nevi visible. The color of birthmarks is individual and can be either light or dark brown.
Every person has birthmarks of various sizes and colors. But in the event that there are too many of them, or if they increase in size, then there is a risk of their degeneration into oncological education. Therefore, nevi that are in places of increased friction, or on the face, must be removed. Also, you should not delay a visit to the doctor in the event that the birthmark in some way begins to change. Most often, moles are removed using liquid nitrogen, or by diathermocoagulation. (Read also: What is a skin nevus?)
Large age spots that appear on the face, most often in women, are called chloasma or melasma. These spots are irregular in shape, often merging into one large formation. Chloasma may appear not only on the face, but also on the neck, ears, and shoulders. The decollete area is rarely affected.
Melasmas are prone to overgrowth when exposed to ultraviolet rays. The cause of the occurrence is mainly a violation of the hormonal background in the woman's body. Chloasma can characterize the onset of the menstrual cycle, occur during gestation, during breastfeeding, while taking any hormonal drugs.
In addition, it is chloasma that most often occurs in response to the application of aromatic and hormone-containing ointments to the skin. Usually, after the product is canceled, the defects disappear; cosmetic procedures can speed up this process.
Lentigines are age spots that appear in humans as they age. Lentigo is popularly called senile ripples. Spots appear mainly on those places that have been most intensely exposed to sunlight - this is the face, hands, forearms, décolleté, upper back.
Similar spots appear after the age of 40. Most women suffer from this cosmetic defect, as it betrays their age and visually ages. When a woman enters menopause, against the background of hormonal changes, the spots become even brighter and more noticeable, their number increases.
Decorative cosmetics are unable to cope with lentigo, therefore women should contact cosmetology offices to eliminate this defect.
Vitiligo and albinism
Skin hypopigmentation is defects such as albinism and vitiligo. These are quite rare pathologies that are rather difficult to treat. People with such disabilities are strictly prohibited from exposure to the sun.
Discolored areas of the skin from sun exposure should be protected as carefully as possible. In addition, albinism requires wearing special contact lenses that protect the organs of vision from ultraviolet radiation. If a person with vitiligo or albinism gets a sunburn, then, as a rule, it is deep and severe, and regular exposure to the sun's rays leads to cancer.
Find out more: vitiligo - causes, stages, why is it dangerous, how and how to treat vitiligo?
Skin Care Tips to Prevent Age Spots
It is much easier to prevent the appearance of age spots than to try to get rid of them later.
If there is a tendency for them to occur, then the following skin care tips will help to prevent the appearance of age spots:
- Time in the sun should be kept to a minimum. Much has been said about the dangers of sunburn, however, if there is no way to refuse it, then you need to go out in the sun before 11 am and after 5 pm;
- You need to use creams with ultraviolet filters on an ongoing basis. This will be indicated by the SPF mark. The higher the number after this abbreviation, the higher the sun protection;
- It is useful to apply serums, creams and masks with antioxidants included in their composition to the skin;
- Decorative cosmetics should be chosen one that contains SPF filters;
- It is highly advisable to refuse visiting the solarium. There you can get a much higher dose of ultraviolet radiation than when under natural sunlight;
- Do not use products that contain alcohol. They dry the skin, making it more vulnerable to sun damage. The same applies to ointments containing hormones. They should be applied only if there are medical recommendations for this.
The main advice for skin care to prevent the appearance of age spots is to protect it from the sun's rays as much as possible.
Treatment of age spots on the face and other parts of the body
Removing age spots is a very topical issue, especially for women. They are the ones who react sharply to the appearance of any spot on the face, as this is a serious cosmetic defect. Before you start taking any measures yourself, you need to consult with a dermatologist and cosmetologist.
It is possible that a specialist will advise a woman to consult an endocrinologist or an oncologist. You may need to be tested for hormonal status, because pigmentation is often the result of hormonal disorders in the body. If they are not eliminated, then it will not be possible to get rid of age spots.
If no pathologies have been identified, then a cosmetologist will help to cope with pigmentation. In the arsenal of these specialists there are many methods to deal with such defects. So, the most affordable and simple method for removing age spots is the application of special ointments and creams that have a whitening effect. If they do not help get rid of the problem, then cosmetologists resort to more complex methods of eliminating age spots - these are procedures using special devices located in beauty salons.
You can whiten your skin with glycolic and fruit masks and creams. Fruit acid peels, cryotherapy, laser whitening give a good effect.
Masks, face cream
By applying a mask, peeling or cream with natural plant acids to the age spot, you can achieve a whitening effect. Glycolic products are also useful, which exfoliate the upper layer of the epidermis, renew the skin, and rid it of old particles. As a result, young, healthy cells remain on the surface.
The effect that can be achieved:
- The skin becomes soft, firm and elastic;
- The pores are narrowed;
- The relief is leveled;
- The color becomes more uniform.
The following products have a whitening effect: Snow White Cream, Perfect Whitening Night Cream, KORA Freckle Cream, Trinity M Whitening Cream, White Linen Cream, etc.
Whitening creams based on fruit and glycolic acids are suitable for all skin types. A contraindication to their use is the individual intolerance of the components of a particular agent. Fruit peels are divided into superficial and deep, in order to achieve the maximum effect, you should go through a set of procedures. Unlike glycolic peels, fruit peels can be done at any time of the year. While glycolic products are used only in winter and autumn, when the sun's rays are not too intense.
If the skin has areas of hyperpigmentation, papules, pustules, acne vulgaris, you can use a remedy called Retin A. It is available in the form of a lotion, cream, gel, solution. The active ingredient in the preparation is trans-retinoic acid. This tool has a number of contraindications, therefore, requires careful study of the instructions for use. So, it is forbidden to apply it on injured skin (with traces of burns, on unhealed wounds), if the skin is too tanned, then it is worth waiting for a while so that the tan becomes less intense. Do not go out into the sun after using the product. The cream is applied once a day, left for 6 hours, and then washed off with water. The treatment course should not exceed 30 days.
You can often hear recommendations regarding the use of Ahromin cream produced in Bulgaria as a whitening agent. Indeed, earlier in its composition there was a powerful bleach - hydroquinone, however, due to many studies that showed the harm and risk of using this substance , it was removed from Achromin. This means that the whitening effect cannot be achieved. In addition, the product itself has an unpleasant odor, a greasy consistency, so it is very problematic to use it.
Sometimes it is possible to get rid of age spots with the help of such products as Badyaga Forte and Express Bruise.
On the subject: 10 popular creams for age spots
Laser removal of age spots on the face
You can get rid of age spots using the laser rejuvenation procedure. For this purpose, a diode laser with various attachments is used. The spot is treated with the tip of the device, which delivers a laser beam. During the procedure, the person will experience some skin tingling and a feeling of warmth.
To prevent burns on the skin, it is cooled using another nozzle. The final stage of the procedure is the application of a special balm that restores damaged areas. You will also need additional skin care over the next few days. First of all, you will need to apply sunscreen on it.
The deeper the age spots, the larger they are, the more intense the effect will be, the number of procedures depends on this. Most often, it is possible to cope with a cosmetic defect in 1-4 procedures, the interval between them should be at least 14 days.
The advantages of laser skin whitening are as follows:
- Maintaining the integrity of the skin;
- Possibility of parallel carrying out of other cosmetic procedures;
- Stimulation of the skin's own collagen production;
- It is possible not only to whiten the skin, but also to tighten it;
- Existing acne scars will be reduced, or completely disappear.;
- Fast results.
The disadvantages of laser skin whitening are:
- The presence of contraindications (pregnancy, breastfeeding, some skin diseases, including cancer, psoriasis, dermatosis, local herpetic eruptions, decompensated diabetes mellitus, etc.);
- The rehabilitation period, during which the skin requires special care;
- Edema of the skin may occur, which disappears on its own after 1-3 days;
- During the first week after the procedure, the skin may peel off;
- High price.
According to a 2015 study, the "Nd YAG" laser was effective in treating freckles. The results of the study showed that treatment with this laser relieved over 50% of freckles in 62% of participants. 
Cryotherapy for age spots
Cryotherapy for age spots is a method of removing pigmentation areas, moles, nevi, and warts from the skin using liquid nitrogen. The procedure is as follows: liquid nitrogen is applied to the treated area (in the form of applications or by spraying), the defect is frozen, a blister appears, which peels off after a certain period of time. Together with it, old cells and soft tissues die off, which need to be regenerated. The procedure is short-lived and takes several seconds.
Benefits of cryotherapy for age spots:
- Flawlessly clean skin;
- The ability to remove deep age spots;
- The speed of the procedure.
Disadvantages of cryotherapy for age spots:
- The onset of painful sensations;
- The appearance of a feeling of temporary numbness;
- The rehabilitation period with swelling of the skin, the appearance of blisters, peeling of the skin, hyperemia of the skin;
- The presence of contraindications (infectious diseases, disorders of the heart and blood vessels, hypersensitivity to cold, etc.).
After the procedure, the skin requires special care, which the beautician must warn his client about.
Photo removal of age spots
Photo removal of age spots is reduced to the fact that the problem area of the skin is exposed to high-intensity light pulses. It is known that melanin absorbs light waves selectively, only when they pass in a certain range. With the help of special devices, a wavelength is selected that is capable of destroying melanocytes without damaging the skin.
The settings on the device are set individually for each patient, adjusted depending on the nature of the pigment spot, its depth, size, location, etc. To remove surface defects, it is enough 1 or 2 procedures with an interval of 2 weeks. In order to get rid of deep age spots, it will take about 6 treatments.
It is the photo-removal of age spots that is the most effective method of getting rid of this cosmetic defect. The stain disappears without damaging the skin. This is the main advantage of the method.
However, not everyone can use it, among the contraindications are:
- Skin diseases;
- Oncological diseases of the skin;
- Carrying a child;
- The presence of keloid scars;
- Diseases of the psyche.
As for the disadvantages of the method, they include the presence of a rehabilitation period, during which the treated area becomes even darker, the effect of a dirty spot is created. This phenomenon is considered natural, since melanin is released. After an average of 2 weeks, the skin will begin to peel off, after which the stain will either completely disappear or become much less noticeable.
Mesotherapy for age spots
Mesotherapy is a procedure aimed at rejuvenating the skin, leveling its color, narrowing the pores. For its implementation, special meso-cocktails are used, which include active ingredients. They treat the face, décolleté, hands.
As part of a meso cocktail you can find:
- Ascorbic acid, which is a powerful antioxidant;
- Phytic acid, which is a skin bleach;
- Pyruvic acid, which stimulates collagen production.
The meso cocktail is applied to the skin for a certain time, after which it is removed. More often than not, a few treatments are enough to make the skin look whiter.
Chemical peeling is a procedure for whitening, cleansing and rejuvenating the skin by acting on its deep layers with chemical components that make up a cosmetic product. Various acids are the main active components of peels.
Peeling is carried out on limited areas of the skin, relieves them of pigmentation and wrinkles.
If we are talking about superficial peeling, then the stratum corneum of the epidermis is exposed, with the middle peeling all layers of the epidermis are processed up to the basement membrane, and with deep peeling the basement membrane and the reticular layer of the dermis are captured.
Superficial peeling is carried out mainly with the help of fruit acids (glycolic, lactic, phytic, pyruvic, etc.), middle peeling with TCA or salicylic acid, and deep peeling with carbolic acid.
It is strictly forbidden to carry out chemical peels in spring and summer, since when exposed to ultraviolet radiation, the pigmentation of the treated areas will only increase. The types of peeling are selected in a cosmetology room, taking into account the individual characteristics of the patient's skin, his age, the presence of contraindications, etc.
As a rule, the following recommendations apply:
- Superficial fruit peeling up to 4 times a year for patients under 30 years old;
- Peeling with glycolic acid, 7 procedures twice a year for patients aged 30 to 35 years;
- TCA peeling and retinoic peeling for patients under 50 years of age with pronounced pigmentation;
- Phenol peeling is recommended only after the age of 50 and older.
Before the peeling procedure, the skin is prepared for several weeks, for which it is treated with a weak solution of glycolic acid. The peeling procedure begins with degreasing the skin, all impurities on it are subject to removal. After that, active acids are applied to the skin and the reaction of the epidermal integument is monitored. After the allotted time, the acid is washed off. When the product is removed, a burn forms on the skin, the face turns red, a feeling of tightness appears, which is subsequently replaced by pronounced peeling of the skin. When the peeling process is complete, the patient's skin will be renewed - it will not have pigment spots, wrinkles and other defects.
After exfoliation, the skin should be treated with sunscreen and moisturizing and rejuvenating products.
The disadvantage of a chemical peel is that the pigmentation in the treated area can increase. In addition, you should choose a professional cosmetologist, since non-compliance with the technology can lead to serious skin burns. In this regard, carbolic peeling is the most dangerous.
Dermabrasion of the face is a type of peeling that is performed mechanically. The skin is sanded with a special nylon or metal brush. Dermabrasion is a traumatic procedure, during which the integrity of the skin is violated, therefore it is compared with a surgical operation.
With dermabrasion, the surface layers of the dermis are removed, but the deep layers are not affected. Subsequently, the skin regenerates with the appearance of young and healthy cells, the mechanisms for the production of collagen fibers are triggered.
Dermabrasion is performed to remove freckles, age spots, scars, nevi, spider veins, facial wrinkles, etc.
The procedure is not used under the following conditions:
- Skin inflammation;
- Diseases of the blood;
- The period of rehabilitation after radiation or hormone therapy;
- Cardiovascular diseases, etc.
Dark skin, allergies, hyperpigmentation - all these conditions are relative contraindications for mechanical peeling.
The procedure is painful and is therefore performed under local or even general anesthesia. Grind the skin in zones. After the procedure, the wound is carried out in a closed or open way, in the latter case, the skin is treated with Iodopiron every 5 minutes for the first hour. After which the wound is dried.
The treated area is covered with a scab, which leaves after two weeks. Pink skin is located under the crust, which will heal for another 2-3 months. During this time, it should be carefully protected from ultraviolet exposure by applying sunscreen. However, the difference between treated and untreated areas will be noticeable throughout the year. The procedure is complex and requires compulsory medical education from the specialist who will carry it out.
How to remove freckles, moles, deep age spots?
- If there are age spots on the skin, then such people need to sunbathe with extreme caution. Of course, this is fashionable, but health should come first. In addition, fair skin makes its owner several years younger. In spring and summer, people with age spots need to protect their skin from ultraviolet radiation by applying special creams to it. Wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses will help in this regard.
- You can make freckles less noticeable with a chemical peel with fruit or lactic acids. However, this is a temporary measure, since freckles will reappear when the sun hits the skin. This will happen much faster if you do not use sunscreen.
- Moles can be removed using methods such as cryotherapy, laser removal, diathermocoagulation.
- You can get rid of deep age spots using laser peeling, photo removal, mesotherapy, mechanical peeling.
- Hydrogen peroxide;
- Hydroquinone and products based on it;
- Lavender oil;
- Acids (ascorbic, citric, acetic, salicylic, lactic);
- Horseradish vinegar tincture;
These drugs are able to have a pronounced keratolytic effect and well exfoliate the upper layer of the epidermis.
Which doctor should i contact with age spots?
If pigmentation spots appear on the skin, you should consult a dermatologist. You may need to consult a trichologist, mycologist, endocrinologist, oncologist.
The author of the article: Kuzmina Vera Valerievna | Endocrinologist, nutritionist
Education: Diploma of the Russian State Medical University named after NI Pirogov with a degree in General Medicine (2004). Residency at Moscow State University of Medicine and Dentistry, diploma in Endocrinology (2006).