Age spots, also known as sun spots, are the dark brown blemishes that appear on the face and body and are usually apparent with age. Too much sun exposure causes the body to produce a higher level of melanin (skin pigment). Over the years, this excess amount of melanin builds up in little clumps on the skin in the form of age spots. Although the sun is the main culprit to causing age spots, patients should also be aware of the many other factors that can increase their chances of developing this condition.
What Causes Age Spots?
One of the most common causes of age spots is overexposure to the sun. People with age spots are also at a higher risk of developing skin cancer, so exposure to the sun should be limited.
People who want to get a sun kissed glow but opt to avoid the sun and jump into a tanning booth instead, should be aware that ultraviolet light from tanning booths can be just as harmful to the skin as the natural rays from the sun.
A variety of foods including celery, parsnip, and lime, contain naturally occurring phototoxins that are harmless to the body until they are exposed to sunlight or an artificial light from a tanning booth. These phototoxins can make skin more sensitive to sunlight and more susceptible to getting sunburns, which can lead to age spots over time.
Certain medications can also increase skin sensitivity to the sun. Taking birth control pills, antihistamines, retinoids, antidepressants, and antibiotics containing tetracycline can also lead to problems with age spots.
Even many perfumes and lotions that contain para-aminobenzoic acid or musk can cause age spots on skin that is overexposed to the sun.
Genetics can also play a big part in producing age spots. Patients who have light skin and light hair are more sensitive to the sun's rays and thus, are more susceptible to getting age spots. In many cases, people can also inherit this condition from relatives who have age spots.
It's evident that the sun is the major source in causing age spots. In fact, most of the sun damage we incur happens when we are driving. The sun emits both UVA and UVB rays. Unless your car windows have a proper sun protection film, your skin is exposed to sun burn from the UVA rays and sun damage from the UVB rays. Keeping your skin well protected while in the car and while outside can help reduce your chances of developing age spots.