One of the culprits of ruining graceful aging are age spots on the skin. They can be a huge eyesore and worse, a telling sign of your age. Your doctor will reassure you that they’re harmless and just ‘one of those aging things’. But they can be off-putting and you may want to get rid of them.
What causes age spots?
Age spots are also known as solar lentigines because they are caused by exposure to UV radiation. This explains why these spots usually occur on the face, shoulders, arms and hands – the areas most exposed to the sun.
The skin produces a pigment called melanin which gives it its color. Exposure to UV radiation triggers abnormalities in melanin production and distribution. Age spots are a type of hyperpigmentation – a phenomenon with the overproduction of melanin.
Age spots occur mostly in older people because aging skin is more susceptible to this kind of damage. Also, age spots are more common in light colored skin.
How to lighten or get rid of age spots?
There are a number of ways to lighten the age spots, some even to get rid of them completely. You can opt for medication and medical treatments which can effectively make the spots disappear. On the other hand, if you’d rather not risk the side effects and cost of medical treatments, some simple home remedies as natural hyperpigmentation treatment have also been known to work wonders.
Prescription creams and medicines
One of the most common lightening creams recommended by dermatologists is hydroquinone. They can be used alone or in combination with a mild steroid and retinoids like tretinoin. These creams and lotions slowly fade away the dark spots over a period of a few months.
Medical and Clinical Treatment
1. Laser treatment
Pulsed light therapies and lasers can effectively target melanocytes – the cells that produce melanin. They penetrate deep into the skin to target the root cause of the age spots without causing any damage to the skin.
2. Chemical peels
This treatment uses certain acids that are applied on the age spots to lighten and remove them.
Cryotherapy or freezing makes use of freezing agents such as liquid nitrogen which is applied on the age spots. This destroys the affected cells to get rid of the hyperpigmentation.
This treatment involves using planing equipment to remove layers of the skin. This smoothes away the age spots and allows new skin to grow in its place.
Though effective, the problem with clinical treatments is that they come at a huge cost. Some treatments make you even more susceptible to UV damage. They will require extra sun-protection to prevent reverse effects or may cause age spots to reappear.
Medication, on the other hand, requires long-term treatment which calls for regular care and attention. Lightening creams and lotions also cause side effects such as skin irritation especially when used over a period of time.
Home remedies can work effectively with minimal side effects and at little to no cost. Using organic, every-day kitchen ingredients can offer a great alternative to chemical and medical products.
Here are some recommended home remedies to lighten and get rid of age spots
1. Apple cider vinegar
The alpha hydroxyl acids present in apple cider vinegar can lighten hyperpigmentation spots. Mix a spoonful of apple cider vinegar with a spoon of olive oil to dilute its stinginess and acidic. Apply and gently massage this mix on the affected area and leave it on for 20 minutes before washing off.
2. Lemon juice
Rich in vitamin C and citric acid, lemon juice is a natural bleaching agent. Take a spoonful of lemon juice and dilute it with a spoonful of water. Undiluted juice can be quite harsh on the skin. Apply the diluted juice on the dark spots and leave it on for 20 minutes. Wash with water without the use of soap. It is best to do this treatment at night to avoid exposure to the sun right after. Apply lemon juice at least twice a week for a couple of months to see the sun spots fade away.
Honey is renowned for its antibacterial and antioxidant properties that slow down aging of the skin. Use raw, organic honey as an exfoliator, applying it on affected areas and massaging gently. Leave it on for 20 minutes before washing off. Honey is very mild on the skin so it can be used as a part of your daily skin care routine.
4. Aloe vera gel
This is the gel of the succulent aloe plant that can be extracted very easily at home. Apply some fresh gel on the age spots and leave it on till it dries before rinsing off. Aloe vera works effectively not only against age spots but also other hyperpigmentation conditions like melasma. Use its gel every day for soft, supple skin with less visible age spots.
Vitamin C and glucosinolates are essential components of horseradish that fight melanin production and work as antioxidants. Make a horseradish paste and directly apply it on the areas with sun spots. You could also make a mix of horseradish and apple cider vinegar and apply it on the skin. Leave it on for at least 20 minutes before washing it off. Follow this routine twice a week.
Rich in lactic acid, yoghurt can help get rid of the dead cells of the skin. Therefore, it can effectively slough off the discolored skin of the age spots to reveal new and healthy skin. Apply yoghurt directly on the age spots and leave it on to dry. Alternatively, make a paste of a tablespoon of yoghurt, a teaspoon of lemon juice and two tablespoons of ground oatmeal. Apply this like a face pack and leave it on to dry. Rise it off with cool water and repeat this routine a couple of times a week to get results.
7. Castor oil
Known for its incredible healing properties, castor oil can help getting rid of age spots. Simply massage the affected areas with a few drops of castor oil twice a day. Continue this routine for a month to notice the age spots fading away.