Age spots are caused by a local excess of melanin, the brown pigment in the skin, that can be deposited in irregular patterns, spots, blotches or large areas following sun exposure. It can be expressed as age spots (solar lentigines, liver spots, skin spots), melasma (chloasma), and other spots or patches of skin which have become darker than the adjacent areas. These conditions are common and are not race dependent.
The majority of these, usually harmless but sometimes unattractive, conditions involves the reaction, or over reaction, of the skin of many individuals to the sun or to other UV (ultraviolet) light.
Exfoliation offers a successful way to assist the fading or removal of hyperpigmentation. Other methods include skin lightening (bleaching) preparations and antioxidants. Simply put, these darker, hyperpigmented cells must be replaced by normal cells and melanin overproduction must be regulated. Removal of dark skin spots may be accomplished quickly using a deep clinical peel procedure (chemical, dermabrasion, laser) although some hyperpigmention can worsen due to these procedures.
More commonly, the use of surface exfoliants to remove surface cells encourages replacement of the deeper cells that have darkened. Both forms of exfoliation encourage new cell growth.
Increased cell growth is also encouraged by tretinoin (Retin-A, Renova). An additional procedure, skin bleaching can reduce the effect of melanin and encourage fading.
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