Before you ask “how to get rid of age spots”, you should realize that although similar, those age spots might actually be another form of hyperpigmentation called Melasma. Melasma is a common dermatological condition that causes patches of dark pigmentation on the face. It develops when the melanocytes in the skin overproduce melanin, leading to discoloration on certain parts of the skin. The severity of melasma varies significantly, and it can lead to embarrassment and psychological distress. The pigmentation may appear grayish-brown in color, and most commonly occurs on the nose, forehead, chin, cheeks and above the lip. Less common manifestations of the condition may appear on other parts of the body that get increased exposure to the sun’s UV rays, such as the arms and legs.
Melasma is most common in women, particularly those who tan easily. Those with very fair or dark skin are not as likely to develop melasma. Researchers believe that melasma may have a genetic link as it runs strongly in families. The condition commonly manifests between the ages of 20 and 40, but it can start in childhood or late adulthood. Studies also show that there is a significant link between melasma or age spots and the hormonal fluctuation that comes with reaching adulthood, pregnancy and menopause. Pregnant women often develop melasma during or after pregnancy, resulting in what is is sometimes known as a “pregnancy mask.”
Melasma is not a dangerous condition. However, the condition does appear similar to many dangerous forms of skin cancer and may cause concern for patients. It is essential to get a dermatological examination to determine that what appears to be melasma is not actually a more dangerous condition. Additionally, many patients may feel emotional distress as a result of the condition.
While many cases of melasma are genetic and therefore unpreventable, the condition also has many avoidable causes. Sun exposure is the leading avoidable cause of melasma, and prevention is as simple as avoiding prolonged, direct exposure to the sun. The use of sunscreen protection can also prevent the development of melasma.
Medications and pharmacological products may also trigger the development of melasma, especially those that cause a phototoxic reaction in the skin. The chemicals alter the skin’s natural melanocyte production, resulting in the overproduction that leads to blotchy areas of dark pigmentation.
One of the most effective age spots treatment methods is the use of tyrosinase inhibitors, which prevent new pigmentation from occurring. This allows specialists to manage the progression of melasma while treating the pigmentation that has already occurred. Hydrocortisone is a popular corticosteroid that is often used to reduce the dark pigmentation of age spots and prevent further irritation in the future. Injectable tranexamic acid cream is also effective in some cases, but more likely to cause an allergic reaction than corticosteroids.
Chemical peels and laser resurfacing are two of the most popular options for treating melasma. Chemical peels involve the gradual removal of the top layers of skin through a carefully managed series of treatments. This procedure reveals the skin underneath that has not been as heavily pigmented by the sun or hormonal causes. Laser resurfacing provides similar results through pulsating beams that remove the top layer of skin in small segments. Photofacials, which use light to reduce the appearance of age spots, are a particularly gentle treatment that minimizes irritation and maximizes dark spot reduction.
Soine Dermatology & Aesthetics can provide information and help for patients who want to learn how to get rid of age spots. From laser resurfacing to medication, it is essential to work with a dermatological professional that understands the both the cosmetic and emotional aspects of melasma treatment. A variety of options are available to patients who want age spots treatment but are concerned about sensitive skin or allergic reactions.