However, there are factors that prompt their development. So while we may not be able to control them completely, we can take steps to prevent the onset of age spots.
What are age spots?
Age spots are commonly referred to as either liver spots or solar lentigines.
They’re small black or brown flat spots which typically develop on the face, shoulders, arms and the backs of the hands.
Though they tend to develop around the age of 40, they can appear earlier or later on in life.
What causes age spots?
A variety of factors can lead to the development of age spots. However, they are mostly determined by genetics and years of exposure to UV rays.
Exposure to UV raysThe most common cause of age spots is linked to continued exposure to UV rays.
But why is this the case?
When your skin becomes exposed to UV rays from the sun, the production of melanin is accelerated. This is a pigment found in the upper epidermis skin layer. It’s this pigment that gives your skin its natural colour.
The production of melanin causes your skin to appear tanned. When there is prolonged sun exposure, melanin can begin to clump together or produce at highly concentrated levels. This causes age spots to develop.
This is also why they tend to develop on more visible areas of the skin, such as the arms, shoulders and face. These areas tend to experience the most exposure to the sun.
GeneticsOther than sun exposure, genetics also play a key role.
If your family members develop age spots at a young age, you’re likely to have a similar experience.
Interestingly, the colour of your skin also plays a determining role. In fact, those with blonde hair and fair skin are more genetically susceptible to age spots than those with naturally darker skin and hair.
How to prevent age spots:
So now you’re aware of the causes, but how can we prevent the development of age spots?
This is fairly simple, and through making slight changes to your daily routine you can ensure your skin is well looked-after. Most importantly, you need to protect your skin from the sun.
Apply SPF dailyNo matter the season, you should always apply sun cream to your skin before you go outdoors!
Sun cream prevents UV rays penetrating the deeper layers of our skin, and as such, this decreases sun damage. UV rays are prevalent year-round, regardless of how dreary the weather may be.
An easy way of incorporating this into your skin routine is to use a moisturiser that contains SPF. That way, you can apply sun protection daily, whilst nourishing your skin.
Applying SPF will significantly reduce the chances of developing age spots.
Reduce your exposure to the sunAdditionally, whilst you should apply sun protection, you should also try to reduce the amount of time you spend directly exposed to the sun’s rays.
The sun is at its most powerful when at its highest point in the sky. This is generally between 10 am and 2 pm. Even throughout the winter, when it often feels as though sunshine is lacking, we face exposure to UV rays.
So reducing your exposure to the sun during these hours can further help to protect your skin and prevent age spots!
Avoid tanning bedsTanning beds have a similar effect to sun exposure, meaning their use is also best avoided.
Just like with sun exposure, tanning beds prompt our skin cells to produce higher levels of melanin in order to defend our skin against harmful UV rays.
In effect, melanin is only ever produced as a defence mechanism against dangerous substances. So if your skin starts to become browner, you know that your skin is at risk!
To see more information on tanning beds, take a look at our travel skincare tips.
Tanning beds can be particularly tempting throughout winter, as we start to miss that summer sun! However, a safer option is to opt for a tinted moisturiser instead. This will gradually and safely tan your skin, without the risk of age spots and sun damage.
It’s worth noting that age spots can also look similar to other skin conditions. Seborrheic keratosis and moles are typical examples, as well as more serious conditions.
Please see your GP if you have any concerns about your age spots.