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What Fades Dark Spots?

What Fades Dark Spots? What Fades Dark Spots?

Dark spots on skin are commonly known as age spots, liver spots, sun spots or, more technically, lentigines. Unrelated to the liver, despite one name, dark spots form over time on sun-exposed skin. Typical on people over 40, according to the Mayo Clinic, they are a cosmetic, but not medical, concern. Good Housekeeping reports that a woman's skin tone can make her look up to 20 years older. Though not necessary, there are treatment options to fade dark spots.

Shield the Spots

The most important part of treating dark spots on your skin is preventing them from growing darker or larger. Sun spots continue to develop with ongoing unprotected exposure to the sun's ultraviolet radiation. This makes sun protection essential to fading your dark spots. The New York Presbyterian Hospital recommends staying out of the sun mid-day, when its rays are strongest, and applying a sunblock with a sun protection factor of at least 15 half an hour before going out. Reapply it frequently, and use clothing and hats to shield your skin from the sun too. Apply sunscreen year-round, and remember that pavement, water, sand, snow and ice reflect the sun's rays.

Topical Treatments

The bleaching agent hydroquinone, available in over-the-counter skin bleaching creams and in higher concentrations by prescription, is one of the best options, according to chairman of Howard University's department of dermatology, Rebat Halder, M.D. Often more effective when used in conjunction with a prescription retinoid and mild steroid, says the Mayo Clinic, hydroquinone products can take a few months to over a year to show significant results.

Alternatives to hydroquinone, though often less effective, are available. They are skin lightening agents, rather than bleaching agents. The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, or ASDS, suggests topical treatments made with alpha hydroxy acids. Mount Sinai Medical Center's Debra Wattenberg, M.D., recommends looking for products with ingredients such as kojic acid, soy, vitamin C, licorice extract and mulberry.

Cosmetic Procedures

Laser and phototherapy offer an array of tools for fading dark spots on the skin, as Good Housekeeping reports, including different types of pigmented-lesion lasers and intense pulsed light treatments. Beams of light are used to destroy effected skin, explains ASDS. Several treatments sessions are usually needed, and results take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, states the Mayo Clinic.

Other cosmetic procedures are available as well. Cryosurgery uses a freezing agent such as liquid nitrogen to destroy dark spots. Dermabrasion uses a rotating tool to plane off age spots, while chemical peels use an acid solution to strip off dark skin spots.

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