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Age Spots

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 4, 2022.

What are age spots?

Age spots, or liver spots, are spots on your skin caused by sun exposure over many years. They may be light brown, dark brown, or black and are bigger than freckles. They are common in middle aged to elderly adults. They are often found on the scalp, face, arms, and hands. Age spots may increase in size over the years.

How are age spots diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine the spots on your scalp, face, neck, forearms, and hands. He or she may do a biopsy to check for skin cancer if you have spots that look different. A biopsy is when a sample of skin is removed and sent for tests.

How are age spots treated?

Age spots are harmless and do not need treatment. Medicines or minor procedures may be used to lighten the appearance of age spots. Cryotherapy with liquid nitrogen or laser therapy are examples of minor procedures. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about treatment for age spots.

How can I monitor my age spots?

Get your skin checked every year by your healthcare provider or dermatologist. They will check your age spots and other moles for risk of skin cancer.

How can I help prevent more age spots?

Protect your skin:

  • Do not use tanning beds. The beds use ultraviolet (UV) rays and can damage your skin as much as the sun.
  • Wear sunscreen that has an SPF of 30 or higher. The sunscreen should also have UVA and UVB protection. Follow the directions on the label when you use sunscreen. Put on more sunscreen if you are in the sun for longer than an hour. Reapply sunscreen often if you swim or sweat.
  • Stay out of the sun between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. The sun is strongest and most damaging to your skin between these times.
  • Protect your lips by using lipsticks and lip balms that contain sunscreen.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to protect your arms and legs when you are out in the sun. Wear a hat with a wide brim to protect both your face and neck.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • Your skin stings or burns when you use your medicines.
  • You notice a change in the way your spots look.
  • Your spots have blood or pus coming from them.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.