Does Sun Damage Cause All Age Spots?

Are all age spots caused from sun damage or do they just show up as a natural part of aging skin?

Doctor Answers 6

The cause of age spots

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Some age spots are caused simply by getting older, while others are caused by genetics, and others by excessive or chronic sun exposure. Your dermatologist can tell you which of your spots is caused by which of these factors, for whatever that's worth. Thankfully, there are a number of great treatment options to remove these lesions, regardless of the cause. ~ Dr. Benjamin Barankin, Toronto Dermatology Centre

Toronto Dermatologic Surgeon

Causes of sun spots and age spots. How to treat age spots.

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Sun damage, hormonal influences, and chronic inflammation can cause age spots.  I treat age spots with Melaquin AM and Melaquin PM skin lighteners in my practice. 

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

Sun Damage and Age Spots

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Yes. Excessive exposure to the sun is the direct cause of age spots. However genetics may also predispose some individuals to developing age spots more readily than others.

Melanin is the pigment that gives the skin its color. UV light from the sun causes more melanin to be produced, resulting in tanning for many individuals. High exposure to UV rays over time causes damage to the skin cells. So instead of melanin being produced in an evenly distributed fashion, it clumps together in high concentrations resulting in age spots. 

Sanusi Umar, MD
Redondo Beach Dermatologic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Does Sun Damage Cause all Age Spots?

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The short answer to your question is yes.  If you were never to have any sun exposure, you would likely not get age spots - that is if we are talking about solar lentigines, the scientific definition of age spots.

To avoid getting more sun spots in the future, consider wearing hats or long sleeve shirts when spending lots of time outside and for permanent removal of the spots consider finding a local practitioner who uses q-switched laser treatments.

Harold J. Kaplan, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Called Solar Lentigines for a Reason

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The lay term for a solar lentigo is an age spot. As the name solar strongly implies these brown spots are due to the sun.

One of the more famous photographs in dermatology textbooks is a picture of a group of Buddhist monks who spend their lives contemplating in caves. These monks, no matter what their age, do not have a single lentigo or sunlight-induced blemish on them.

Sun damage is the leading factor in what we call extrinsic aging. Such things as air pollution, cigarette smoke, dwarf as an element in extrinsic aging compared to the sun.

IPL is an excellent method to rid your skin of these unsightly pigmented lesions. However, after this procedure it would be imperative to wear a sunscreen.

Arnold R. Oppenheim, MD
Virginia Beach Dermatologist

Lentigenes "Age Spots"

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Lentigenes aka "Browns' or "Age Spots" are seen in aging skin but are especially associated with UV ray exposure (Sun, tanning booths). Since the vast majority of us have and are spending our times in the sun we have a much higher rate of such concentrations of melanin pigment than had we spent our lives indoors.

Such pigmentation can be very effectively treated with IPL technology such as the BBL device by Sciton. In it light flashes in a certain frequency will literally peel these spots off with little downtime to you.

Dr. P. Aldea

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.