As you age, you will notice changes in your skin. Whether it’s the little lines around your eyes or the wrinkles on your forehead, your skin looks different from when you were young. One change that many people notice right away is the dark spots on their hands.
You might be wondering what causes these dark spots. Here are eight reasons why you have dark spots and, most importantly, how to get rid of them.
What are dark spots on your skin?
Sometimes called age spots, sunspots or liver spots: brown spots on the hands that come from hyperpigmentation of the skin. In addition to finding them on your hands, you may have hyperpigmentation under your eyes, on your chest, or on your neck. These areas are more sensitive as we age and the skin appears thinner.
Dark spots are an excess of something called melanin. Melanin is the natural pigment present in the skin. It gives color to your skin. The darker your complexion, the more melanin you will have.
Age spots occur when your body produces too much melanin. Melanin builds up, forming flat, oval shapes on the skin. Dark spots don’t hurt and aren’t dangerous, but some people don’t like them.
1 – Vitamin E deficiency
Brown spots get worse with age. According to studies, vitamin E can help reduce them. There isn’t much evidence in humans yet, but vitamin E deficiencies in lab rats have caused skin changes. So, in case vitamin E deficiency is causing dark spots, try to get enough vitamin E in your diet. Add these foods to your diet to boost your vitamin E intake.
- Sunflower seeds and oil
- Soya oil
- Brazil nut
- Peanuts and peanut butter
- beet leaves
- Red peppers
2 – You are over fifty years old
Once you are over fifty, you notice signs of deterioration and discoloration on your skin. The damage may have happened years ago, but it may not show up until you are older. After age 50, your body no longer produces as much collagen or elastin as when you were younger. These proteins keep your skin looking smooth, soft and healthy.
3 – Fair skin makes you more likely to develop dark spots
You are more likely to get age spots if you have fair skin. You don’t have as much melanin as a dark-skinned person, so if you’re out in the sun, you’re more likely to develop age spots on your hands, face, and arms.
4 – You have had severe sunburn in the past
In the past, beach girls would put baby oil on their skin to get a nice sunburn that would later turn into a tan. Little did they know they would have age spots on their skin decades later.
There was a lack of understanding at the time about how sunburn damages the skin. If you’ve had severe sunburn in the past, you’re more likely to develop skin problems later in life, including age spots or cancer.
5 – Brown spots may appear if you use a tanning bed
Tanning beds, like sunlight, can damage the skin. There is a misconception in the United States that a tan makes you look healthy. For this reason, many people unknowingly use tanning beds to achieve the “tanned” look.
What they don’t realize is that they are damaging their skin. Tanning beds use ultraviolet rays which cause dark spots, just like the sun’s rays.
6 – You spend a lot of time in the sun
Spending time in the sun makes you prone to dark spots, especially as you age. UV light accelerates the production of melanin in your body. After years of exposure to sunlight, melanin builds up in dark spots of pigmentation.
7 – Genetics can increase your risk of dark spots
You might be predisposed to dark spots if your parents or grandparents had them. This may be due to their skin tone and hereditary tendencies.
You can’t change your family’s genetics, but there are some precautions you can take to avoid getting brown spots.
8 – Ultraviolet rays from artificial sources
Being in the sun exposes you to ultraviolet rays (UV rays), but there are many artificial sources of UV rays that can also cause dark spots.
- Black light lamps: These lamps emit UV rays.
- Sunlamps: The duration of exposure to this type of lamp determines the amount of UVA rays you are exposed to. These lamps treat people with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) to reduce their depression. Please limit your time under this lamp if you have this condition.
- Mercury vapor lamps: These lamps are used to illuminate public spaces such as gymnasiums or streets. When working properly, you are not exposed to UV rays, but UV rays can escape if the outer bulb breaks. Protective measures have been created to prevent the exterior bulb from breaking, but often they are not installed correctly or are faulty.
- High-pressure xenon or xenon-mercury arc lamps or plasma torches: These UV sources are used in many things, such as solar panels and even car headlights. So, depending on your degree of exposure to these lights at work or at home, you may get dark spots on your skin.
- Ultraviolet lamp: Ultraviolet lamps, or germicidal lamps as they are sometimes called, are used to disinfect water, non-porous surfaces or air. This radiation reduces the growth and spread of bacteria. Exposure to this radiation causes skin burns. It is important to avoid direct exposure of the skin to ultraviolet rays and never look directly into an ultraviolet lamp, even for a second. Studies show that the UV rays emitted by these germicidal lamps put humans at risk of skin cancer or cataracts.
How to get rid of brown spots?
Here are some treatments that can help reduce dark spots.
Over-the-counter skin lightening products
You can buy creams and lotions to fade dark spots. They may have some effect on them. You may not notice the discoloration until you have worn it for several weeks or months. Some skin lightening products are unsafe due to high levels of mercury. Mercury damages the kidneys and nerves. Avoid using these skin lightening ingredients, such as
- Calomel: The United States recently banned this ingredient. If you buy skincare products overseas, make sure they don’t contain this chemical.
- Hydrargyri oxidum rubrum
- Any product containing the word mercury or mercuric
2 – Vitamin C
Vitamin C can fade hyperpigmentation like dark spots.
3 – Laser and intense pulsed light
Your dermatologist can use laser light therapy to destroy melanin cells without damaging your skin. Several sessions may be necessary for the brown spots to disappear completely.
4 – Dark spots of frostbite
Freezing is a procedure performed by a dermatologist to remove dark spots. They apply liquid nitrogen for several seconds. This will destroy excess pigmentation. Your skin will heal lighter than before. There is a slight risk of scarring during this procedure.
5 – Chemical peel
This is a chemical solution that is applied to the skin to remove dark spots. May cause redness or scarring of the skin.
When to contact your doctor for advice on age spots
Contact your doctor if you notice any of these conditions in or around your dark spots.
- color changes
- Obtaining irregular sides
How to Prevent Dark Spots
If you already have dark spots, you’ll want to protect yourself so you don’t get more. Here are some suggestions for preventing further age spots.
- When you are outside, stay in the shade.
- Choose to be indoors during the hottest hours of the day (10:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m.).
- Wear protective clothing that covers arms and legs.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face, head and neck.
- Always wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and the skin around your eyes from UV rays.
- Use a zinc-based sunscreen on exposed parts of your skin. Reapply every few hours.
- Do not use a tanning bed.
- Choose to make up with an SPF.
Final Thoughts on Understanding the Causes of Dark Spots and How to Treat Them
Skin problems like dark spots are part of aging. You may notice them on your hands, face, or neck. Of course, you can age gracefully if you take precautions to protect your skin. Hyperpigmentation of melanin in the skin is mainly due to UV rays from the sun. Here in the west, a “healthy” tan is considered a good thing. This thought has caused many people to break their skin and get age spots. Of course, other factors contribute to dark spots, such as having fair skin or even certain artificial UV lamps that most people are unknowingly exposed to. The best thing you can do is protect your skin as best you can and avoid tanning beds and excessive sun.
By Jennifer Hinders. Articles in English