You swore you’d never get those ugly liver spots. Like the ones, your mom had on her face and arms. You took care of your skin, slathering on moisturizer every day and evening.

But here you are, staring at an ugly liver spot on your cheek. How could this happen? Two words.

The sun

Liver spots, commonly known as age spots or sunspots, are areas of overactive pigment cells. The UV light in sunlight encourages melanin overproduction. Years of sun exposure stimulate your skin to make excess melanin that groups together.

This grouping generates dark spots on your skin. They’re considered unsightly in our perfection-driven society. Age spots don’t need treatment as they’re not dangerous to your health.

If you love tanning or just being out in the sun, you’re setting yourself up for age spots. Age spots appear most often in people over 50. Younger people who tan or sunbathe without taking precautions are susceptible to developing age spots.

Your genetics play a role, too. If you inherited your mom’s light skin, you’re prone to develop liver spots. Sunburn or prolonged sun exposure makes you susceptible to age spots.

Protect your skin

An age spot is your poor, exposed skin attempting to protect itself from further damage. Use a moisturizer with an SPF rating of 30 or more. A broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 works better and must be applied every few hours if you stay in the sun for long periods.

Do you want to avoid the ugly spots as much as possible? Stay out of the sun between 10 am and 2 pm. The sunlight is most fierce in these hours.

Cover up your skin outdoors by wearing at least medium-weave clothing. Put a broad-brimmed hat on your head, not a visor or baseball cap.


If they bother you to the point of distraction, there are treatments to remove or lighten your spots. It would be best to visit your dermatologist to ensure they’re not skin cancer or another skin condition. Your dermatologist will help you decide the best treatment for your skin.

Medications to lighten the spots include bleaching creams (hydroquinone) or a weak steroid. The downside to drugs is itching, burning, or redness. Dermabrasion, microdermabrasion, and chemical peel remove the top layer of skin.

Your skin grows lighter and less pigmented, but it may take several treatments. The downside is redness and things more serious, like infection or scarring. Are you looking for something less drastic?

Consider laser or cryotherapy (freezing) instead. Regular laser or pulsed light treatments do the job in a couple of sessions without skin damage. Cryotherapy consists of applying liquid nitrogen to the spots for a few seconds, which destroys the pigment.

When the application area heals, it’s usually lighter, but the downside is skin irritation and possible scarring or discoloration. After all these treatments, you must wear sunscreen with SPF 30 to protect the area.

You can reduce those age spots. Work with your dermatologist to find the best solution for your skin and lifestyle.

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