Age Spots (Liver Spots)


This condition is characterized by flat, brown, gray or black spots that appear on the face, hands, arms and shoulders. Age spots are most commonly found in adults over age 40 and are usually harmless. Although age spots are also known as liver spots, they are unrelated to liver function.


Age spots develop slowly, after years of sun exposure. Exposure to ultraviolet light (from the sun or artificial sources) causes the skin to produce extra melanin, the dark pigment that colors your skin. When this extra melanin groups together beneath the surface of the skin, age spots are formed. Aging and genetics can make a person more susceptible to age spots.


The main symptom of this condition is the appearance of flat, brown, gray or black areas of increased pigmentation on the skin. Age spots most frequently occur on the face, hands, arms and shoulders and may range in size. They are painless and do not cause irritation.


Age spots do not require medical care, but irregularities and changes in size or color should be evaluated by a doctor. The appearance of age spots can be lightened or removed through the use of laser therapy, bleaching creams, dermabrasion and chemical peels.