At the risk of repeating ourselves, liver spots aren't just a mature skin issue. From our 30's onwards pigment spots can crop up, regardless of our skin type or colour. Sun exposure, ageing skin and genetic factors all play a part. Melanin controls skin colour and all of the above can alter our skin's pigment production and distribution. Pigment cells are unevenly distributed and appear as brown patches on our skin's surface, particularly on areas frequently exposed - face, cleavage, hands, forearms...
Liver spots have different causes and treatments. Lentigo (AKA age or liver spots) is caused by ageing skin, whilst solar lentigo is caused by frequent exposure to the sun. Then there's melasma (pregnancy mask) due to fluctuating hormones, as well as post-inflammatory pigmentation, caused by an excess of melanin following an injury - acne, burns, wounds etc. All of these conditions are completely harmless, but can look ugly and dull our skin. The result? An irregular tone and lacklustre skin.
Although there are plenty of ways to lighten or zap pigment spots, we can still do our best to prevent them from cropping up in the first place. As sun exposure is a common cause and aggravating factor, we should religiously protect ourselves from UVA and UVB rays. And 'religiously' means daily! Pigment production is an on-going process, so we should apply fruit acid and antioxidant-rich age spot creams to our face and neck every morning. Fruit acids exfoliate skin and boost cell renewal, whilst antioxidants such as vitamins C, E and resveratrol combat free radicals. But be patient
- it takes at least 2 to 3 weeks before you'll see any results. If you have solar lentigo, a dermatologist can reduce it using cryotherapy
- a relatively simple and cheap option.
Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze each spot and reduce hyperpigmentation by up to 80%! Another, albeit slightly controversial, treatment uses a laser to burn away spots, but it's a tricky job as the heat generated by lasers can aggravate hyperpigmentation.
Finally, there's peeling, where the upper layer of the epidermis is exfoliated in order to boost cell renewal. A mask containing depigmenting agents is applied and left for several hours. Over the course of a few days, the epidermis slowly peels off, leaving behind clear, perfectly uniform, glowing skin!
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