Virginia may be for lovers, but it’s also for people who love being outdoors. From peaceful parks and state forests to museums and beautiful shorelines, there are plenty of reasons to want to spend as much time outdoors as possible.
But there’s one thing Virginians don’t love, and that’s prematurely aged, sun-damaged skin. Unfortunately being outdoors exposes you to plenty of ultraviolet rays, drastically increasing your risk of sunburns and, yes, age spots.
Michele Menihart, FNP, and the team at Starkey Medical Esthetics want every patient at their Salem, Virginia, practice to understand why and how age spots occur — and what you can do about them. If you’ve been noticing little brown age spots on your skin, here’s what you should know.
Age spots 101
Your skin contains melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. Melanin is made by cells called melanocytes. These cells produce a similar amount of melanin to achieve a relatively consistent color across most of our skin.
Melanin doesn’t just give us our skin tone — it also helps absorb UV rays to protect our skin from too much sun exposure. When our skin is exposed to the sun, melanocytes ramp up their production of melanin to help prevent those rays from causing damage. In fact, it’s that ramped-up production that results in a suntan. It's also why people with fairer skin — and less melanin — are far more likely to get a sunburn.
Age spots happen when melanocytes start to “clump together” inside our skin, a phenomenon that happens more often as we get older and our years of sun exposure add up. That’s why age spots usually show up on areas of our skin that get more sun exposure, like the face, hands, shoulders, and arms.
Treating age spots
Age spots are harmless, but they can age your skin and make you feel less confident and attractive. Fortunately, age spots several treatment options are available to fade age spots or eliminate them entirely.
Patients at Starkey Medical Esthetics can select from options like:
- Chemical peels
- Intense pulsed light therapy
- Laser therapy
These treatments typically work by restoring skin, replacing damaged cells with healthy, new cells, or by ramping up skin cell turnover.
Many age spot treatments offer other benefits for skin and skin aging. Our team recommends the treatment that’s best for helping you achieve your unique goals.
Age spots vs. skin cancer
Maybe you aren’t terribly worried about your age spots right now, or maybe you’ve decided to put off having them treated. That’s perfectly OK — but you still need to have those brown spots checked out.
That’s because although the sun’s UV rays are a major cause of age spots, they also cause skin cancer, and in the early stages, age spots and skin cancer may look the same. Having brown spots checked early is the best way to determine if they’re cancerous or benign, so you can have appropriate treatment as early as possible.
Keep your skin healthy and beautiful
Your skin plays a vitally important role in keeping you healthy, and it also helps you feel confident and attractive. Don’t let age spots diminish the value of your beautiful skin. To learn how we can help, call 540-389-0909 or book an appointment online at Starkey Medical Esthetics today.