The aging process has advantages and disadvantages, and many people would agree that age spots definitely fall into the latter category. They are there for all the world to see and a beacon that middle age has parked itself on your skin. Fortunately, age spots can be treated and eliminated. Expensive lasers, chemical peels and freezing by liquid nitrogen are all options, but you may already have an inexpensive way to erase them yourself, at home. Hydrogen peroxide may be the key to turning back the years.
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Age spots, or lentigines, are usually evidence of your sun exposure through the years. Medline Plus of the National Library of Medicine, reports that age spots are common after the age of 40. They typically occur on sun-exposed areas, such as your face, forearms, back of your hands, forehead, abdomen, chest and shoulders. You may have heard heard them referred to as "liver spots," but they have no connection to your liver or its function.
David G. Williams, M.D., owner of an alternative medical clinic in Texas and researcher, identifies hydrogen peroxide as "an interesting substance that should really be called hydrogen dioxide. Its chemical formula is H2O2. It contains one more atom of oxygen that does water--H20." It is colorless and odorless, but not tasteless. It can be dangerous if ingested.
New York dermatologist, Dr. Karen Burke, recommends using hydrogen peroxide on small age spots for an inexpensive, over-the-counter treatment. This is not a quick fix, as it could take up to several weeks to get rid of the age spot you target. Dr. Burke advises using 12 percent hydrogen peroxide, typically found at beauty supply stores. It is often used in combination with products to bleach your hair. By contrast, the hydrogen peroxide you may have in your home as a disinfectant is most likely only 3 percent.
Before applying the hydrogen peroxide, distinguish your age spots from other brown marks on your skin. Age spots are flat, light to dark brown or black areas that result from increased pigmentation, and their edges are rarely uniform in appearance. As you begin to set up for this home treatment, be sure to guard against any spilling of the peroxide. At the recommended 12 percent, it could damage any colored surface it touches. Expect the typical foaming seen when hydrogen peroxide makes contact with a surface; this is merely an interaction with oxygen.
Dr. Burke recommends using a cotton swab, dipped in the peroxide. First apply it to one small spot to see how your skin reacts. If this is well tolerated, then re-apply it on your age spots, pushing in slightly with the swab. Be careful to place the peroxide solution only on the spot itself and do not let it drip down onto your face. This typically happens when you have absorbed too much liquid on the tip of the cotton swab. Hold the swab in place until slight stinging is felt. Repeat this once every three days for several weeks.
After you have applied the hydrogen peroxide to your age spots, you may feel a slight burning sensation for up to 10 minutes. This is normal and no cause for concern. Spots may appear white for up to four hours. After the white begins to fade, the spots may become pink or red for a few days. After several days, expect the spot to scab over for a few more days and then it should fall off on its own. Do not pick these scabs off prematurely or you will not see the full effect.