Age spots, also known as liver spots, can be an unsightly sign of the hands of time. Years of exposing your skin to the sun’s harmful UV rays for a youthful, sun-kissed glow will inevitably catch up with you. These spots become apparent around your eyes, other areas of the face and the back of your hands.
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The sun’s UV rays cause an increase in melanin production, which is the darker pigment of your skin that is responsible for your bronzed skin color when you have a tan. Over time, the melanin starts being produced in high concentrations and clusters to form visible spots on your skin. Other causes of age spots around your eyes are the natural process of aging and genetics.
Age spots around the eyes and other areas of your body look like large freckles. These freckles are flat patches of skin that are brown, black or gray. Age spots can be found as a cluster or individually, notes the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. Because age spots are associated with photo-aging - the process whereby skin ages prematurely due to UV rays - age spots are often accompanied by fine lines and wrinkles.
Whenever you notice a new dark spot or spots on your skin, make an appointment with a dermatologist or family physician. In most cases these spots are harmless, but they could also signify skin cancer. Your doctor will examine your skin and may ask you a series of questions about your sun exposure habits and your family history. If your doctor is unable to determine if the darkened area is a harmless age spot or something serious, a skin biopsy will be done in the doctor’s office.
A skin lightener, also referred to as skin bleaching, can help fade age spots. These products are available over the counter or by prescription, but should only be used to treat areas around the eyes under the supervision of your doctor. Prescription strength lighteners with hydroquinone will have more noticeable results than an over-the-counter product, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Chemical peels and microdermabrasion can also remove age spots. Chemical peels use a specialized acidic solution to remove top layers of the epidermis, while microdermabrasion is used to slough them off. Cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen to destroy extra pigments, and light therapy is another method that can give effective results, but it may take several sessions.
Avoid intentional tanning and minimize your sun exposure between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when UV rays are the most damaging. Apply a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to any areas not protected by clothing, including around the eyes, advises the American Academy of Dermatology. Wear sunglasses that provide 99 percent UVA and UVB protection to help protect the skin around your eyes as well.