Age spots, which are also called liver spots or solar lentigines, are a common skin condition, particularly for patients over the age of 50. More than three million cases are treated in the United States each year. Flat spots that are typically black, brown, or tan in color may appear on the hands, feet, arms, shoulders, back, face, or other areas of the body that are frequently exposed to sunlight.
While age spots are generally harmless, patients should have them evaluated by a dermatologist, because they often resemble the appearance of potentially cancerous growth.
At Washington Dermatology Consultants, with offices in Stafford and Arlington, VA, our clinicians understand and treat all types of skin conditions, with a comprehensive array of medical, surgical, laser, and cosmetic dermatology. Our Board-certified dermatologist is a recognized and respected leader in the field of dermatology. Our doctor has been named one of America’s Top Doctors for several consecutive years.
Age spots can be treated several ways. However, it is best to prevent their development and maintain youthful-looking skin by avoiding overexposure to sunlight or tanning beds, and wearing sunscreen, because the most frequent cause is ultraviolet light. Over time, excess melanin that results from tanning can group together, creating this spotty effect. Individuals with fair complexions are most susceptible, although anyone may be affected. The size of age spots can vary, from a freckle to a half inch.
To determine the best treatment for age spots, a dermatologist will likely evaluate several factors, such as:
- When the spots first became visible.
- Whether the spots developed gradually or suddenly.
- What other changes have occurred in the skin.
- Has the patient had frequent or serious sunburns.
- Are the spots tender or itchy.
Diagnosis may be as simple as a visual inspection. It could require a skin biopsy if other risk factors exist, because age spots may sometimes look like moles, lentigo maligna, or seborrheic keratosis. A customized treatment plan at this practice may include one or several options, including:
- Prescription medications and/or topical cream treatments.
- Cryotherapy or freezing the age spot.
- Chemical peels to remove the outer layer of skin.
- Intense Pulsed Light therapy (IPL) which gradually fades pigmentation spots.
Appointments or consultations at Washington Dermatology Consultants may be requested online or by calling our Arlington or Stafford offices at 571-431-6175.