The brown discolouration of the skin that appears on your face, hands and other exposed areas are variously known as age spots, sun spots or liver spots. Skin spots are clusters of the dark skin pigment melanin that form between the dermis and epidermis. These blemishes are pigmentations of the skin that occur with increased exposure to sunlight/ultra violet radiation (UVR). UVR is the part of sunlight causing skin damage, which may occur as soon as skin is exposed to sunlight. Spots are also part of the natural ageing process, most commonly observed in people over the age of 55. Blemishes may also be caused by the contraceptive pill, hormones, pregnancy and hereditary factors. Most skin spots are harmless, however early stage skin cancer can be mistaken for age spots.
Healthy lifestyle choices are the easiest way to avoid sun spots. Limiting your exposure to the sun by wearing a hat, sunscreen (SPF 30+), loose fitting clothing, sunglasses and sunbathing responsibly will all limit the exposure of your skin to the harmful effects of UVR. There are a number of natural remedies recommended for the treatment of such skin blemishes. Most are applied to the affected areas a number of times a day. These include:
- Lemon juice
- Vitamin E oil
- Aloe vera gel
- Cod liver oil
- Watermelon peel
- Supplements, particularly Vitamin E and Selenium
Laser/light technology is a popular treatment which is selective, precise and relatively quick to heal. Intense pulses of heated light are focused on the blemish which causes the pigment to break up. A lesion forms, crusts and is naturally shed from the skin. This type of treatment should be administered by trained personnel.
Various bleaching/skin lightening creams are also popular, but skin sensitivity is an issue, with many containing toxic chemicals. Some, such as hydroquinolone based creams have been banned in Europe, due to their carcinogenic effect. Products such as kojic acid, a natural by-product from the fermentation stage of sake, have some success, and are often combined with a corticosteroid, to reduce irritation. Chemical peels may also be suitable for some skin types, but scarring can occur. Consult your doctor, dermatologist or accredited naturopath if you have concerns about your skin spots.