Brown spots and ageing

The appearance of small brown spots on your hands, face or décolleté area is one of the first signs of skin ageing: the skin has become tired and can no longer respond properly to the aggressions of the sun.

Submitted on 20/07/2012
 From the age of 40, many people see small unraised brown spots appear on their skin, which are generally concentrated on the back of the hands, forearms, face and décolleté, and whose number tends to increase over time. The size of these spots can range from less than a millimetre to several centimetres, and their colour from light brown to dark brown.

Known as "senile lentigos" or age spots, these spots are extremely common among both men and women: after 70 years, 90% of people with white skin have them. Although their appearance is sometimes comparable, they have nothing to do with freckles.

The origin of lentigos

Located on parts of the body most often exposed to the sun, these lentigos are mainly due to the sun.

Young skin reacts to sun exposure by producing melanin, a protective brown pigment responsible for tanning, in a uniform way. But over time and repeated exposure, the melanocytes (cells that produce melanin) are degraded and their activity becomes uncontrolled in some areas of the skin: melanin is secreted in excess and accumulates in the epidermis forming small brown spots. Thus, the appearance of lentigos is a sign that the skin's sun protection capacity is exhausted and it is no longer able to effectively protect itself against the harmful effects of UV rays. This is one of the first signs of skin ageing.

People who are more exposed to the sun are naturally more prone to age spots. In addition, with each new exposure, the lentigos darken more than the rest of the skin, accentuating the contrast and their unattractive appearance even more. To prevent an excessive multiplication of lentigos, prevention is thus vital: throughout the course of your life, you need to limit sun exposure and use a sunscreen with a high sun protection factor, especially during the summer months.

Restoring an even complexion

Lentigos are benign and there is no need to remove them. However, they are among the signs of ageing and are often considered unsightly: hence many people want to make them disappear.

If you want to get rid of them or if a spot changes in appearance or becomes raised, go and see your dermatologist. He or she will ensure that they are indeed lentigos and may offer you several solutions for fading them: depigmenting creams, cryotherapy with liquid nitrogen, laser treatment, flash lamp treatment, pell, etc. These treatments are effective, but it is then essential to systematically use sun protection to avoid a recurrence.

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