Brown spot on skin

Age Spots

Age spots aren’t dangerous and don’t cause any health problems. Treatment isn’t necessary, but some people want to remove age spots because of their appearance.

Prescription medications

Your healthcare provider may prescribe bleaching creams to fade the age spots gradually. These usually contain hydroquinone, with or without retinoids such as tretinoin. Bleaching creams usually take several months to fade age spots.

Bleaching and tretinoin creams make your skin more sensitive to UV damage. You will need to wear sunscreen at all times during treatment and continue to wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days, after fading the spots.

Medical procedures

There are several medical procedures that can remove or reduce age spots. Each medical procedure carries a risk of side effects and complications. Ask your dermatologist, plastic surgeon, or skin care professional about which treatment is the most appropriate for your skin.

Medical procedures for age spots include:

  • intense pulsed light treatment, which emits a range of light waves that passes through the skin and targets melanin to destroy or breakup the spots
  • chemical peels, which remove the outer layer of your skin so new skin can grow in its place
  • dermabrasion, which smooths off the outer layers of the skin so new skin can grow in its place
  • cryosurgery, which freezes individual age spots with liquid nitrogen

Always wear sunscreen after treatment to protect your healing skin from UV damage and to prevent the reoccurrence of the spots.

Home treatments

There are many over-the-counter creams available that are marketed for removing age spots. However, these creams aren’t as strong as prescription creams. They may or may not effectively remove your excess skin pigmentation. If you want to use an over-the-counter cream, choose one that contains hydroquinone, deoxyarbutin, glycolic acid, alpha hydroxy acid, or kojic acid.

Cosmetics don’t remove age spots. Instead, they cover them. Ask your dermatologist, plastic surgeon, or makeup counter salesperson to recommend brands that effectively conceal age spots.

Your doctor has told you that those brown spots that appeared suddenly on your skin are nothing to worry about – they are simply age spots. That’s great news.

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But if you don’t like how they look, you might be wondering how you got those spots, how can you get rid of them and how to avoid getting more.

Age spots, which are sometimes called liver spots or solar lentigines, happen after exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, says dermatologist Amy Kassouf, MD. They can be tan, brown or black, vary in size and usually appear on the areas most exposed to the sun such as the face, hands, shoulders and arms.

“Age spots are common in adults older than age 50,” Dr. Kassouf says. “But younger people can get them too, especially if they spend a lot of time in the sun or use tanning beds.”

How age spots develop

Your skin contains melanin, which gives your skin its color. Melanin also gives you a tan when your skin is exposed to UV light.

Age spots appear when melanin becomes clumped in the skin or is produced in high concentrations, such as when your skin is exposed to lots of UV light, Dr. Kassouf says.

Anyone can develop age spots, but you may be more likely to develop the condition if you have light-colored or fair skin or have a history of frequent or intense sun exposure or sunburn.

Older women are more susceptible to age spots — and sun damage — because they have reduced amounts of melanin in the skin.

What you can do about age spots

If you’re unhappy with the appearance of age spots, you can lighten or remove them. The pigment is at the base of the epidermis — the topmost layer of skin — so any treatments meant to lighten the age spots must penetrate this layer of skin.

Age spot treatments include:

  • Prescription lightening creams (hydroquinone) used alone or with retinoids (tretinoin) and a mild steroid may gradually fade the spots over several months.
  • Laser and intense pulsed light therapies can target melanin granules and melanin-producing cells (melanocytes) without damaging the skin’s surface.
  • Freezing, or cryotherapy, involves applying liquid nitrogen or another freezing agent to the age spots to destroy the extra pigment.
  • Laser resurfacing, which can remove sun-damaged cells to freshen skin and fade spots.
  • Chemical peel, which involves applying to the age spots an acid that releases the outer layer of your skin.

These procedures can have side effects, so discuss your options carefully with your dermatologist, Dr. Kassouf says. It’s important to make sure your dermatologist is specially trained and experienced in the technique you’re considering, she says.

You can purchase over-the-counter fade creams and lotions for lightening age spots in department stores and drugstores and on the Internet. These may improve the appearance of age spots, depending on how dark the spots are and how often you apply the cream, Dr. Kassouf says.

“Regular and consistent use over the course of several weeks or months may be necessary to produce noticeable results,” she says.

When buying a nonprescription fade cream, choose one that contains hydroquinone, glycolic acid or kojic acid, Dr. Kassouf says. Some of these products, especially those that contain hydroquinone, may cause skin irritation.

Why Do I Have These Brown Spots on My Face?

I get a lot of questions in the Denver Health Dermatology clinic about brown spots appearing on skin and more importantly how to get rid of them. This is an especially important topic as the weather gets warmer.
First let’s start with explaining why you have them and how can you prevent them and then we will get into how to treat them.
Brown spots are caused by the overproduction of melanin in your skin. Melanin is the pigment that gives your skin, hair and eyes their color. It is produced by cells called melanocytes. Think of melanocytes as sponges that soak up sunlight. The more ultraviolet (UV) exposure your skin gets, the more saturated with melanin your sponges will get. Contrary to popular belief dark-skinned individuals do not have more melanocytes. Light and dark-skinned people have similar numbers of melanocytes on our skin. The difference is in the pigment-containing organelles, called melanosomes, which are larger, more numerous and more pigmented in dark compared to light-skin people.
To make this quite simple, there are four main reasons that you would see brown spots on your skin:

  • Sun exposure
  • Hormonal changes
  • Genetics
  • Age

Brown spots, known medically as solar lentigo (lentigines plural), are a common part of the aging process of your skin. Many people call them “age spots” or “liver spots” but dermatologists prefer to call them “wisdom spots” because we collect more of them the older/wiser we get. Roughly 75 percent of Caucasian people over the age of 60 are likely to have one or more of these lesions. These spots develop in response to sun damage. Somewhere in your life, you must have not used sunscreen regularly, may have enjoyed tanning out in the sun a bit too much or you used tanning beds.

For us women, some other reasons for brown spots or darkening of the skin on the face are hormonal changes, especially during pregnancy. Yes, we women have yet another reason to stress when pregnant. Don’t worry, the pregnancy glow is still real but while your acne may clear during pregnancy and your hair may start growing like weeds, the skin on your face may start to experience a hormone-related darkening called melasma. It is known as “the mask of pregnancy” and it appears as brown patches on the upper lip, forehead and cheeks. Suddenly, you have a brown mustache! It is very common in moms-to-be but also in women who take birth control pills. It can simply be due to changes in the estrogen and progesterone levels that happen during the regular menstrual cycle too.

Is There Anything I Can Do to Prevent Getting More Brown Spots?

Of course! Sun exposure is the biggest factor that can contribute to darkening of the skin. Good UV protection includes:

  • Wearing Sunscreen daily with an SPF 30 or higher
  • Wearing sun protective clothing with Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF)
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat or use an umbrella to block the sun
  • Re-applying sunscreen every two hours when out in the sun

I’ve heard patients say, “I do not like how sunscreen makes me look,” or “I am allergic to all sunscreens,” or “I do not like how it makes my skin feel” – yes, we have heard it all. Let me give you the news, the right sunscreen for you does already exist but you will need to find it through trial and error. I always tell my patients the best sunscreen is the one you will use!
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides a forecast of the expected risk of overexposure to UV radiation from the sun in your zip code. You can track it on your smartphone through the SunWise UV Index App to plan your outdoor adventures responsibly.
Another app I recommend downloading is called Sunface. If you are not convinced yet that sun protection is worth the effort, take a selfie with the Sunface App and find out what your face will look like in five, 10, 15, 20 and 25 years if you use tanning beds or if you do not use sun protection. It is rather scary.
Additionally, make sure to moisturize your skin well and use a gentle facial cleanser such as Cerave or Vanicream wash because trauma to the skin, dryness or irritation can also worsen the darkening of your skin.

How Can I Treat the Brown Spots That I Already Have on My Face?

Brown spots are not dangerous. The only reason to have them treated is cosmetic – because we feel it will improve our appearance, make us look younger and ultimately enhance our self-esteem. Treating existing hyperpigmentation is harder than preventing it and is much more expensive.

  • Lightening creams: These are easily accessible but are they safe? There are over-the-counter skin-lightening creams such as kojic acid serums, vitamin C serums, lactic, azelaic and glycolic acid preparations, which are relatively safe. There are also over-the-counter and prescription strength hydroquinone creams, which are rather controversial because they increase the risk for developing a skin condition called ochronosis. This is a blue-gray pigmentation caused by the long term use of hydroquinone. It may or may not go away after stopping the use of hydroquinone. My advice is to be super cautious with this one if you do not want more problems.
  • Retinoids or Vitamin A derivatives: These are also helpful in the fight for younger and lighter skin. They stimulate the production of collagen and exfoliate the skin gently by speeding up the cell turn over. They may cause irritation to the skin so start using your retinoid slowly – 2-3 times a week at first, then increase frequency of use gradually, moisturize and use excellent sun protection. An over-the-counter Vitamin A derivative called Differin (adapalene) gel used to require a prescription. I recommend that you start by using this product first before moving on to something stronger and more irritating like Tazorac, which does require a prescription.
  • Cryotherapy: Your dermatologist or medical provider can perform this procedure in the office but it is not usually covered by insurance because it is considered cosmetic. It also has the potential to leave you with permanent white spots or even more hyperpigmentation.
  • Laser treatment: Many options are also available in dermatology facilities or Medical Spas in the community. However, it is important to find the right provider to perform those treatments on you in order to avoid scarring or more complications. The laser technician also needs to be familiar with settings for your skin color especially if you are a dark-skinned individual or otherwise you are risking permanent skin discoloration.
  • Chemical peels and Intense pulse light (IPL) treatments: These can lighten the skin as well. IPL is a pulsed light device that distributes a broad wavelength of energy that is absorbed by the pigment of the brown spot and destroys it. TCL and glycolic acid chemical peels are also very effective with fighting sun spots by exfoliating the skin and getting rid of the top layer of damaged skin.

Is it Just an Age Spot or Skin Cancer?

The potential signs of skin cancer (melanoma) can be identified with the ABCDE acronym:

  • A stands for asymmetry. One half looks different than the other.
  • B stands for border. If the borders are irregular, jagged or not perfectly round.
  • C is for color. Is the color darker, uneven or more than one shade?
  • D is for diameter. Is the diameter bigger than a pencil eraser?
  • E is for evolving. Have you noticed any changes in size, color or shape over the past few months or weeks? Is it itchy or bleeding?

If you see any of these signs, do not hesitate to ask your healthcare provider or a dermatologist to evaluate it. I always tell my patients better safe than sorry.

Melanoma or Age Spots? How to Tell the Difference

  • Cherry hemangiomas. Small red dots that are smaller than a pencil eraser, these are caused by an overgrowth of blood vessels in the skin. They are common and can appear anywhere, but they are not linked to skin cancer.
  • Lentigines. These are flat, tan-to-dark spots that look similar to freckles. They usually range from the size of a pencil eraser to the size of a dime, but they could be bigger or smaller. These are what most people typically think of as age spots or liver spots. They are usually located on sun-exposed areas of the skin.
  • Seborrheic keratoses. These can be flat or raised and range from pale to dark brown or black. They are often scaly or wart-like, although they are not warts. “They can be due to sunlight, age, and are also genetic,” says Dr. Wolf. People who have many of these skin changes have probably seen them before on a first-degree relative. They are also linked to skin tags, another kind of benign skin growth.

Melanoma in its early stages can resemble lentigines or, sometimes, seborrheic keratoses. “If a melanoma arises in a pre-existing mole, it is raised and smooth,” says Wolf. “If it arises on normal skin, it starts as a flat brown to black growth, then grows out or down.”

If a bump grows on a mole or in a previously flat, discolored spot, see your dermatologist right away to get checked for possible skin cancer.

One reason to call your dermatologist immediately is that if melanoma is diagnosed early, “it can be cured with surgery,” says Wolf. But once it starts to deepen or spread to other parts of your body, melanoma can be difficult to treat.

If you see a suspicious spot on your skin, run through the ABCs of melanoma, says Wolf. They are:

  • Asymmetry means that the growth is different on one side than on the other. One side is typically bigger.
  • Look at the border. “If it is irregular, that’s a suspicious sign,” says Wolf.
  • The color of the lesion (or growth) is also telling. Lesions with more than one color are suspicious. The darker the lesion, the greater your concern should be.
  • Melanomas tend to be larger in diameter than a pencil eraser. Wolf warns that this guideline isn’t completely reliable, however – melanomas can be very small and still be problematic.
  • Consider the evolution (or change) of your skin spot. Sudden changes, bleeding, itching, and pain all require a doctor’s appointment for further diagnosis.

When your doctor is concerned about a particular spot, he or she might remove part or all of it and send it off for a biopsy.

If you simply have age spots, as is the case most often, you have several options if they bother you for cosmetic reasons. A dermatologist can remove or lighten the spots (although insurance might not cover this procedure). Your doctor might recommend freezing the spot, using a chemical peel, or trying a laser treatment. You can also help prevent new ones by using sunscreen regularly.

Getting Even: How to Treat Age Spots and Red Spots on the Skin

What are your preferred at-home methods to treat spots? Any specific ingredients people should seek out?

Dr. Pothiawala: In addition to getting treatments for brown spots in the office, there are a few things patients can do at home to treat these spots.

  • Using a lightening agent prescribed by a dermatologist, usually hydroquinone based, regularly for the dark spots. The formation of pigment in the skin is a continuous process that necessitates daily treatment in most cases. There are also some great non-hydroquinone skin brightening lotions, such as Elure, which work well in conjunction with hydroquinone or alone.
  • Equally as important is protecting from the sun and thereby preventing the appearance and worsening of brown spots. Patients should use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a SPF of at least 30 for everyday use, and higher if spending extending time outdoors.

Red spots and flushing unfortunately do not respond well to home treatments. Laser therapies are the most effective means by which to address these spots.

How do you feel about hydroquinone? It’s gotten a very bad rap and many people are afraid to use it.

Dr. Pothiawala: Hydroquinone is safe and effective when used under the direction of a dermatologist. There are risks involved, as with most medications, however, patients must be educated about these risks so that they can stop the medication at any sign of an adverse event.

To book a spot correcting treatment with Dr. Pothiawala, .

Moles, Freckles, Skin Tags, Lentigines & Seborrheic Keratoses

What are benign skin lesions (moles, freckles, skin tags, benign lentigines, seborrheic keratosis)?

Several skin lesions are very common and almost always benign (non-cancerous). These conditions include moles, freckles, skin tags, benign lentigines, and seborrheic keratoses. However, moles are the most commonly examined for cancer if changes are detected.

What is a mole?

Moles are growths on the skin that are usually brown or black. Moles can appear anywhere on the skin, alone or in groups.

Most moles appear in early childhood and during the first 20 years of a person’s life. Some moles might not appear until later in life. It is normal to have between 10 to 40 moles by adulthood.

As the years pass, moles usually change slowly, becoming raised and lighter in color. Often, hairs develop on the mole. Some moles will not change at all, while others will slowly disappear over time.

What should I look for when examining my moles?

Most moles are benign. The only moles that are of medical concern are those that look different than other existing moles or those that first appear after age 20. If you notice changes in a mole’s color, height, size, or shape, you should have a dermatologist (skin doctor) evaluate it. You also should have moles checked if they bleed, ooze, itch, appear scaly or become tender or painful.

Examine your skin with a mirror or ask someone to help you. Pay special attention to areas of your skin that are often exposed to the sun, such as the hands, arms, chest, neck, face and ears.

If your moles do not change over time, there is little reason for concern. If you see any signs of change in an existing mole, if you have a new mole, or if you want a mole to be removed for cosmetic reasons, talk to your dermatologist.

The following ABCDEs are important signs of moles that could be cancerous. If a mole displays any of the signs listed below, have it checked immediately by a dermatologist:

  • Asymmetry — One half of the mole does not match the other half.
  • Border — The border or edges of the mole are ragged, blurred, or irregular.
  • Color — The color of the mole is not the same throughout or has shades of tan, brown, black, blue, white or red.
  • Diameter — The diameter of a mole is larger than the eraser of a pencil.
  • Elevation/Evolution — A mole appears elevated, or raised from the skin. Are the moles changing over time?

Melanoma is a form of skin cancer. The most common location for melanoma in men is the back; in women, it is the lower leg. Melanoma is the most common cancer in women ages 25 to 29.

Above: Example of cancerous mole.

What are the different types of moles?

Congenital nevi are moles that appear at birth. Congenital nevi occur in about 1 in 100 people. These moles might be more likely to develop into melanoma than are moles that appear after birth. If the mole is more than 8 inches in diameter, it poses more risk of becoming cancerous.

Atypical nevi are moles that are larger than average (larger than a pencil eraser) and irregular in shape. They tend to have uneven color with dark brown centers and lighter, uneven edges. These moles tend to be hereditary. People with atypical nevi might have more than 100 moles and have a greater chance of developing malignant (cancerous) melanoma. Any changes in the mole should be checked by a dermatologist to detect skin cancer.

What happens if your dermatologist is concerned about your mole?

If a dermatologist believes the mole needs to be evaluated further or removed entirely, he or she will first take a biopsy (small tissue sample of the mole) to examine thin sections of the tissue under a microscope. This is a simple procedure. (If the dermatologist thinks the mole might be cancerous, cutting through the mole will not cause the cancer to spread.)

If the mole is found to be cancerous, the dermatologist will remove the entire mole by cutting out the entire mole and a rim of normal skin around it, and stitching the wound closed.

What is a skin tag?

A skin tag is a small flap of tissue that hangs off the skin by a connecting stalk. Skin tags are benign and are not dangerous. They are usually found on the neck, chest, back, armpits, under the breasts, or in the groin area. Skin tags appear most often in women, especially with weight gain, and in middle-aged and elderly people.

Skin tags usually don’t cause any pain. However, they can become irritated if anything such as clothing or jewelry rubs on them.

Image of a skin tag.

What is a lentigo?

A lentigo (plural: lentigines) is a spot on the skin that is darker (usually brown) than the surrounding skin. Lentigines are more common among Caucasian patients, especially those with fair skin, but can occur in anyone.

What are freckles?

Freckles are small brown spots usually found on the face and arms. Freckles are extremely common and are not a health threat. They are more often seen in the summer, especially among lighter-skinned people and people with light or red hair. However, freckles can occur in anyone, and appear as darker brown spots in people with darker skin. Both men and women get freckles at an equal rate.

What are seborrheic keratoses?

Seborrheic keratoses are brown or black growths usually found on the chest and back, as well as on the head. They originate from cells called keratinocytes. As they develop, seborrheic keratoses take on a warty appearance.

What causes moles?

Moles occur when cells in the skin grow in a cluster instead of being spread throughout the skin. These cells are called melanocytes, and they make the pigment that gives skin its natural color. Moles might darken after exposure to the sun, during the teen years, and during pregnancy.

What are the causes of lentigines?

Exposure to the sun seems to be the major cause of lentigines. Lentigines most often appear on parts of the body that get the most sun, including the face and hands. Some lentigines might be caused by genetics (family history) or by medical procedures such as radiation therapy.

Above: Image of lentigines.

What causes freckles?

Causes of freckles include genetics, diseases (such as xeroderma pigmentosum, a rare disease that causes an increased sensitivity to ultraviolet light, such as the sun), and exposure to the sun.

Above: Image of freckles.

What causes seborrheic keratoses?

The cause of seborrheic keratoses is unknown. They are seen more often as people get older. They do not lead to skin cancer.

Above: Image of seborrheic keratoses.

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  • Liver spots can be frustrating but if want to know how to get rid of them, you’ve come to the right place! Here’s everything you need to know about liver spots, why they happen and how to erase them.

    Liver spots, dark spots, brown spots: Whatever you call them, those pesky dark marks are annoying and we want to get rid of them!

    According to a survey conducted by Boots No 7, of the 1,000 women over the age of 40 they spoke to, the factor that caused them the same amount of bother as wrinkles was, yep, you guessed it, liver spots, with 36% revealing that age spots worried them.

    Technically known as a type of ‘hyper-pigmentation’, liver spots occur when the melanin in your skin overproduces in certain areas, causing spots or patches that look darker than the rest of your skin to form.

    Although hyper-pigmentation is not dangerous, one of the major causes of liver spots is, so it’s worth knowing what the causes are to ensure you’re looking after your skin the best you can, and to prevent more marks appearing.

    If you’re fed up with the way liver spots look then don’t worry, there are also a few treatments and products you can try to diminish the look of them too.

    Do I have liver spots?

    Dr Hadi Abushaira, a renowned Senior Consultant Dermatologist, says liver spots can appear in many places: ‘They’re most often found on the face, hands and forearms, and are larger and more defined than freckles,’ he says.

    Media for Medical / Contributor

    Liver spots are larger and more defined than freckles, and can often be found on hands

    Causes of liver spots

    Sun exposure

    Liver spots may become lighter during the winter months, when skin is less exposed to the sun.

    Many people note that one of the main cause of liver spots is ‘old age’, which is technically true, but really it means many years exposed to UV light from the sun. (Using a sun bed can have the same effect, so liver spots can be just as common in younger people too).

    This is because UV light speeds up the production of melanin, creating a tan, which helps protect the deeper layers of skin from the sun’s UV rays. Liver spots are caused when the melanin gathers in one area, or is produced in particularly high concentrations.

    Hormones
    An increase in oestrogen (from pregnancy or the contraceptive pill) can make you more susceptible to liver spots, but the brown marks are still mainly caused by sun exposure.

    Genetics
    Genetics can also play a part in the formation of liver spots, so even if you’ve been careful in the sun, you may find them difficult to avoid.

    Liver spots are common in people over 40, but younger people can get them too if their skin is over exposed to the sun. They’re harmless, but it’s important to keep an eye on spots that are dark or change in appearance, as this could be a sign of melanoma, a form of skin cancer. ‘If you are in doubt about your brown skin lesion, then you should seek dermatological advise’, says Dr Hadi.

    Preventing liver spots

    The best way to prevent liver spots is to be cautious in the sun. It goes without saying, but if you’re going to be in the sun then reapply sun cream every two hours, and make sure you use at least a factor 30 or above.

    If you’re really concerned about liver spots then you need to be avoiding exposing your skin to high levels of UV as much as you can. Seek shade at the hottest parts of the day and keep skin covered! After all, those with pale skin may not have a tan, but will likely not have liver spots either…

    How to get rid of liver spots

    Products

    If you have liver spots then don’t worry, with the right treatments and products they can be lightened or removed. It’s a misconception that dark spots ‘melt away’ – in fact, they need to be moved up and out of the skin, the same as you would with a patch of dry skin or a spot.

    That’s why it’s important to begin with a scrub. A product with Vitamin C is particularly good for dark spot sufferers, as it can help speed up the process of getting rid of the marks. The Body Shop Vitamin C Microdermabrasion scrub contains exfoliating micro particles that can help to scrape away those pesky liver spots.

    It’s also important to make sure you apply SPF daily. Bioderma White Objective fluid not only contains SPF 25, but it works to lighten and even out the surface with a depigmentation action at the same time.

    Finish with a serum specially designed to target dark spots – Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector visibly reduces dark spots, age spots and traces of past acne too!

    Body Shop, Bioderma, Clinique

    The Body Shop Vitamin C Microdermabrasion scrub, Bioderma White Objective fluid and Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector are all great for removing dark spots

    Hands can suffer just as much as faces, after all, they’re often exposed to the sun without us even thinking about applying SPF to them. Slather on Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Visibly Renew hand cream, which makes skin soft and supple, while also helping to prevent new brown spots from forming, thanks to its SPF content.

    Boots

    Treatments

    They are some more invasive treatments available to get rid of liver spots. ‘Chemical peels, cryotherapy using liquid nitrogen and laser therapy’ are all options according to Dr Hadi, but they come with a price tag. The Skin Laser Clinic provides a treatment to get rid of brown spots that uses a ‘powerful beam of green that shines through the outer layer of the skin.

    The brown pigment absorbs the light energy and gets very hot for a fraction of a second. This is enough to break up the pigment.’ This costs £200 for an initial consultation and between £100-£200 for the treatment, depending on the size of the area.

    Have you got liver spots? Do you have any tips you can share on how to get rid of them? Head over to our Facebook page to join the conversation – we’d love to hear from you!

    This Week’s Question: Do liver spots have anything at all to do with the liver?

    No. This is a common question and a great starting point for a column about all those doohickeys that grow on our skin as we age.

    LIVER SPOTS: The official name for liver or age spots is “lentigines” from the Latin for “lentil.” These are flat, brown with rounded edges and are larger than freckles. They are not dangerous.

    KERATOSES—Seborrheic keratoses are brown or black raised spots, or wart-like growths that appear to be stuck to the skin. They are harmless. Actinic keratoses are thick, warty, rough, reddish growths. They may be a precursor to skin cancer.

    CHERRY ANGIOMAS—These are small, bright-red raised bumps created by dilated blood vessels. They occur in more than 85 percent of seniors, usually on the trunk. These are also not dangerous.

    TELANGIECTASIA—These are dilated facial blood vessels.

    SKIN TAGS—These are bits of skin that project outward. They may be smooth or irregular, flesh colored or more deeply pigmented. They can either be raised above the surrounding skin or have a stalk so that the tag hangs from the skin. They are benign.

    Now we get into the cancers of the skin.

    SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMAS—These are in the outer layers of the skin. They are closely associated with aging. These are capable of spreading to other organs. They are small, firm, reddened nodules or flat growths. They may also be cone-shaped. Their surfaces may be scaly or crusted.

    BASAL CELL CARCINOMAS—These are the most common of the skin cancers. They develop in the basal layer below the surface of the skin. Basal cell carcinomas seldom spread to other parts of the body. They usually appear as small, shiny bumps or pinpoint, red bleeding areas on the head, face, nose, neck or chest.

    MELANOMAS—This is the deadliest form of skin cancer. Melanomas can spread to other organs and can be fatal. They usually appear as dark brown or black mole-like growths with irregular borders and variable colors. They usually arise in a pre-existing mole or other pigmented lesion.

    Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. About half of all Americans who live to 65 will have skin cancer. Although anyone can get skin cancer, the risk is greatest for people who have fair skin.

    Ultraviolet radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer. All skin cancers can be cured if they are treated before they spread. The most common warning sign of skin cancer is a change on the skin, especially a new growth or a sore that doesn’t heal.

    Check your skin often. Look for changes in the size, shape, color, or feel of birthmarks, moles, and spots. And don’t be reluctant to go to a doctor whenever you see anything on your skin that you suspect might be a problem. Dermatologists recommend that, if you are a fair-skinned senior, you should get a full-body skin exam once a year. This kind of check-up isn’t a bad idea for any senior.

    • 5 Things You Must Know about Skin Cancer
    • 40 Years After Moon Landing: Why Can’t We Cure Cancer?
    • More Cancer News & Information

    The Healthy Geezer column publishes each Wednesday on LiveScience. If you would like to ask a question, please write [email protected] © 2009 by Fred Cicetti.

    This May Be The Best Skin Treatment for People of Color With Dark Marks

    Melanin is a beautiful gift from God that gives people of color added protection from UV rays, skin cancer, and signs of aging. Not to mention, it also glistens in the sun with a magical glow. However, on the flip side, those with pigmented skin are prone to hyperpigmentation — a skin condition that causes dark marks and acne scars when excessive melanin is produced. It can be triggered by anything from a rash, scratch, pimple, or inflammation. To make matters worse, this unsightly ailment can take anywhere from three months to two years to get rid of.

    African Americans are most susceptible to hyperpigmentation because their melanin-rich skin tends to be more reactive than other people of color. Fortunately, there’s a treatment that can reduce the appearance of dark spots called dermalinfusion. According to Cheryl M. Medina, a physician assistant specializing in aesthetics, this treatment works wonders for those with brown skin. The New York-born Filipina has been working in skin care and practicing dermatology for seven years at Skin Deep Clinics, where she specializes in treating darker skin tones with a focus on acne, acne scarring, hyperpigmentation, and anti-aging. She also serves a range of influencers and rising stars, like fashion designer LaQuan Smith and DJ Natasha Diggs, at the Queens-based clinic.

    In an interview with BLACK ENTERPRISE, Medina breaks down a popular dermalinfusion treatment as well as common myths about skincare.

    Cheryl M. Medina, PA-C

    BE: How does the Dermalinfusion treatment work?

    One of the most popular and effective dermalinfusion treatments is called “The Silk Peel.” It’s a wonderful treatment that gets great results in treating acne, dark spots, acne scarring, and anti-aging. Similar to a microdermabrasion treatment, it breaks down the top layer of dead skin revealing newer skin and encouraging new skin cells to the surface, which gives you a nice glow and even skin texture.

    As it is abrading your top layer, it forms a hyperbaric chamber with the skin allowing it to suction whatever can be manipulated out of your pore. So all the bacteria that is trapped in your skin gets eliminated and collected in a collection jar. After the treatment, you get to see all the wonderful things that was pulled out of your face.

    Not only does it exfoliate and cleanse the skin, it also nourishes the skin. It is a wet microdermabrasion meaning, it delivers a solution back into the skin through the pores whilst they are engaged. Depending on what your skin is presenting, we are able to deliver back into the dermis nourishment and treatment in the form of hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, a brightening solution, as well as salicylic acid that helps prevent acne.

    Common Skincare Myths

    BE: Can you debunk a few skincare myths that you’ve heard?

    MYTH: Greasy foods make me break out.

    FACT: Sebaceous glands produce sebum or oil to coat our skin for protection and pH optimization. Greasy foods do not trigger these glands to produce more oil. In fact, it is the behavior whilst eating greasy foods that can add oil to the skin. For example, touching your face with greasy hands after eating greasy foods adds oil to the face and can lead to a breakout by clogging your pores. Be mindful of touching your face whilst eating and of the grease dribble on your chin when you take a bite! Sugar actually does ignite those sebaceous glands to produce more oil. So, what you should be mindful of is your sugar intake.

    MYTH: I can use my body soap to wash my face in the shower. It cleanses all the same.

    FACT: Soaps that foam have a foaming agent called a detergent. That’s right. The same agent you use to wash your clothes with. Detergents are drying agents so using foamy soaps will dry out your skin! That’s why after you wash your face it feels tight and super dry or “clean.” In doing so, you have stripped what’s called the natural acid mantle barrier, a light layer of oil meant to keep your skin at its proper pH level in order for it to function optimally, and throughout the day, you will notice that your skin will produce a lot more oil. It does so in order to compensate for the loss of oil that you stripped away with the foamy wash. Milky cream wash or gel wash is best!

    MYTH: Black don’t crack. I don’t need sunscreen!

    FACT: Although it is true, darker skin tones do age better; it is due to the oil that we produce that keeps our skin moist and supple so that our skin does not degrade as quickly. But sunscreen is used primarily to avoid skin cancer as well as aging. Darker skin tones are not invincible to skin cancer. It is imperative that you protect your skin from the UVA and UVB rays especially these days with our ozone layer depleting.

    As far as aging, darker skin tones are susceptible to hyperpigmentation, dark spots, or age spots. Using an SPF 30-55 daily will prevent these spots from appearing or getting darker. Also, try putting sunscreen on the back of your hands daily as well. Your hands show age quickly due to its overexposure to the UV light.

    Treat Your Skin Right

    BE: What should people of color do on a daily basis to maintain healthy, clear skin?

    It is important to have a proper skincare regimen, starting with a milky or gel-non foaming facial cleanser. You should cleanse your face daily and add a light moisturizer with a broad spectrum (that protects against UVA and UVB rays) SPF between 30-55 that contain antioxidants to nourish the skin.

    The most important part of a skincare routine is being a member of exfoliation nation! You must exfoliate regularly. I tell patients, in the beginning, to start natural with a simple sugar and honey scrub that they can make at home with 1/4 cup sugar + 1-2 tbspns of honey. Mix into a puddy and scrub your face for 60sec. Wash off and apply nourishment to this skin in the form of a moisturizer with antioxidants. This should be done at night, three times per week. Then later to challenge the skin, you can start using chemicals like glycolic acid or retinol to exfoliate the skin.

    Exfoliating allows your pores to breath, encourages new skin growth, gives your skin a healthy glow, and also prevents bacteria or acne to grow. Diet also plays a major role in skin health! You should eat foods that are high in antioxidants like deep greens, acai berries, pomegranate, etc. However, the most important part of your diet is drinking tons of water. Water helps your skin and body rids itself of toxins! Three water bottles a day should be your daily goal at the very least.

    BE: What type of products do you recommend for people who suffer from hyper-pigmentation?

    When dealing with hyperpigmentation, the process is twofold:

    First, you must work out the skin. Meaning, you have to exfoliate regularly. Dark spots are a form of scar tissue. You can lighten it by exfoliating the dead skin off and encouraging new skin to come to the surface. Remember after you exfoliate you must, must, must wear sunscreen to protect the new skin from the sun’s damage. Otherwise, the dark spot will only get darker!

    The second part is actually treating the hyperpigmentation with a topical. Products that contain hydroquinone 4%, bearberry, licorice, citric acid and kojic acid help to brighten or lighten the skin. At Skin Deep Clinics, we offer Skin Tone Pads that contain kojic acid, bearberry and hydroquinone to brighten the skin. They are easy to use and breed wonderful, safe results.

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