We’ll uncover the dark truth about age spots… they’re not just caused by the sun. The one bright spot is that future dark spots are preventable. The Scoop has all the details.
What Gives Us Dark Spots
Melanin, which gives our skin its color, can also give us dark spots on our skin. Melanin production is part of our skin’s natural defenses against environmental factors, like sun damage. But too much Melanin can result in hyperpigmentation and older skin is more susceptible because the hormone that regulates Melanin production decreases as we age.
Here Comes the Sun
The sun’s ultraviolet rays are the most obvious of the sun spot creators and also the most pervasive. Your skin’s Melanin production goes into overdrive to protect against radiation. That overproduction can result in localized dark spots, not today, but in the future. And did you know that even incidental sun exposure from the sun can add up to dark spots? The sun’s harmful rays can cut right through the clouds, drive right through your car windows or stream in through your breakfast nook, damaging skin just the same as sitting outside. To prevent future skin damage and age spots, you must be mindful of all sun exposure and protect yourself with sunscreen and protective clothing and hats.
Too Hot to Handle
The excessive, concentrated heat created by some of our most beloved creature comforts and handy helpers can actually permanently damage our skin. Prolonged direct contact with heating pads, electric blankets, hot water bottles and even heated car seats can leave a mottled angry heat rash called erythema ab igne. It’s important to always have a barrier between your skin and the hot element, like a simple cover or pad. And be sure to give your skin a break from the heat. Your computer is another big heat producer that when sitting directly on your legs can also lead to permanent discoloration. Try a cute little lap desk and you’ll be sitting in the lap of luxury. As an added bonus, a lap desk will boost your laptop for better monitor visibility, alleviating neck and back strain.
Your constricting clothing may be putting you in a tight spot, digging and rubbing your skin into unsightly dark spotted “burns” from too much friction. A too-tight bra is a prime culprit. Straps that dig, clasps that strain, seams that rub under your armpits are all indicators that your bra needs an upgrade. A professional bra fitting can help alleviate the dreaded “bra burn” and give a prettier boost to your décolletage. Skin-tight pants can also generate added friction, producing dark marks on the thighs. Loosen up and give your body a little breathing room with proper fitting clothes. You’ll be pleased with how the right fit really does flatter.
In the Name of Beauty
Even the things we endure to make ourselves more beautiful can sometimes result in post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Laser hair removal, especially on darker skins, can cause dark spots in the same way that tanning beds do because they use a heat source. Waxing can cause temporary sensitivity and the potential for dark spots because that new layer of skin that’s been exposed will be more susceptible to the sun’s harsh rays. It’s important to treat your skin with TLC after any hair removal process. Wear loose fitting clothing. Exfoliate skin to prevent in-grown hairs. Use Hydrocortisone creams to soothe skin post treatment and most importantly, use sunscreen.
Skin darkening can also occur as a result of acne breakouts. Picking your blemishes increases the likelihood you’ll be left with a dark spot long after the acne has healed. Keep your hands to yourself and keep your skin clean and well-tended. If frequent breakouts are a problem, it may be time to switch up your skin care routine. Your moisturizer could be too rich for the summer heat, resulting in clogged pores. If your acne persists, see a dermatologist for long-term solutions.
Hormones and genes can play a big role in the development of dark spots. As we age, our hormone levels ebb and flow. These fluctuations can affect how our body absorbs the excess Melanin that creates the dark spots. While we can’t do anything about the gene pool we were dealt, we can have some impact on how our hormones affect our skin. Your doctor can help you regulate your hormone levels. It’s also said certain foods, like those high in sugar, gluten and yeast, can have an estrogenic effect on our bodies, producing the inflammation that kickstarts the Melanin overdrive. Certain medications can also increase your susceptibility to age spots, with or without sun exposure. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your doctor.