Age spots, sun spots, liver spots, freckles and senile age spots are essentially the same. They are pea size to dime size shape brown to dark brown areas mostly on the backs of the hands, arms and face that are caused from excessive sun exposure. Sun causes the melanocytes (cells that produce pigment) to produce more melanosomes (pigment granules). Age spots can also be present on the face, back and legs.
Melasma is pigmentation that occurs mostly on the face. It is usually seen in women and is induced when the hormone estrogen stimulates the melanocytes to produce pigment. Women on birth control pills, during pregnancy and breast feeding seem to be more prone to get this pigmentation. It is often called the "mask of pregnancy" when seen during pregnancy. Once you get this type of pigment sunlight will continue to activate it.
Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation is where increase pigmentation is seen in the skin after a rash, bruise, scratching, surgical or laser procedure. Inflammation also can cause the pigment producing cells to make more pigment.
Treatment: Topical treatment is usually with products that contain hydroquinone, kojic acid and glycolic acid or combinations of the above. Treatment is successful if the pigmentation is near the epidermis (top layer of skin). Skin Bleaching Gel, Neuceutical Skin Lightening Cream, Nu-Derm Sunfader are a few of the high quality skin fading or bleaching products that DermatologistRx carries. DermatologistRx also carries Pre and Post Laser Rx Fade Creams to help with the post inflammatory hyperpigmentation that can be associated with the laser resurfacing procedure. Sun protection with sunscreens and wearing a hat is very important to prevent new pigmentation and to prevent repigmentation after fading has occurred.
Note: 3% of people can have an allergy to fading creams. DermatologistRx recommends that you apply a small amount (less than a pea size amount of gel or cream) to a small area of pigmentation once a day for several days. If the area is not irritated (red, sore, etc.) you may increase the applications to twice a day and you may use it over a larger area. Fading of the pigmented area may take 2-4 months to work.
See your Dermatologist? More aggressive treatments of age spots and melasma can be had at your dermatologist office. These include prescription strength hydroquinone 4-10% which can be mixed with Retin A or glycolic acid. Chemical peels with stronger strengths of alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), glycolic acid, salicylic acid, resorcinol (Jessner'sâ peel), trichloroacetic acid (TCA) and phenol (Baker's peel) can professionally be applied to reduce the pigmentation of age spots, melasma and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. The Photoderm/laser and other lasers can also remove age spots, solar lentigines, freckles and melasma.
All products should be used as directed on the product container. Any product that causes irritation should be discontinued. The information provided at DermatologistRx is not a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with a dermatologist or your physician.