Age spots – a closer look…

Age or Liver spots and hyperpigmentation, are caused by a number of contributing factors. This article will look at why they appear and how to protect your skin.

What are age spots and how are they formed?

Age or liver spots are an inevitable side effect of the ageing process. They are caused by melanin or Lipofuscin synthesis in the skin, which is made worse by exposure to UV light. The production of this pigment is controlled by an enzyme in the skin called Tyrosinase.

One of the most well-known and more prominent causes of age spots is sun damage. We are by now all very familiar with the terms UVA, UVB and SPF – but what do all these letters mean? Sunlight is made up of several types of light; Visible light is the white light spectrum that makes up the largest proportion of sunlight; Infrared light is invisible radiant energy with a longer wavelength than that of the red wavelength on the visible spectrum, hence the name Infrared; Ultraviolet (UV) light contains 3 wavelengths – UVA, UVB and UVC which are shorter than that of the violet wavelength on the visible spectrum, hence the name Ultra Violet.

But what do they all do?

Ultra Violet light is made up of A, B and C rays, each have different properties and are defined by their wavelengths. UV light makes up a small portion of the sun’s radiation.

  • UVC – has the shortest wavelength and is mostly absorbed by the atmosphere and so very little reaches the earth’s surface.
  • UVB – is the mid range wavelength and also greatly absorbed into the atmosphere, which along with UVC rays is responsible for the phytochemical reaction that lead to the production of the ozone layer. UVB rays are harmful to the skin and can cause sunburn. However, UVB also promotes Vitamin D production within the body.
  • UVA – has the longest wavelength of UV and was once thought to be less damaging to skin. For this reason, it is the light which is used in tanning beds and light therapy for psoriasis. However, more recently, UVA has been found to damage the skin, directly and indirectly (via free radicals) and is a contributing cause of skin cancer. However UVA also promotes low blood pressure by increasing the body’s level of nitric oxide and can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Infrared light is responsible for the heat energy that we feel from the sun and is linked to treating medical conditions in areas of physiotherapy and mental health. Infrared is not harmful unless you are exposed to industrial quantities. It is commonly used in many everyday tasks including fiber optics, thermal imaging, night vision and in healthcare treatments.

According to the British Association of Dermatologists, admissions for skin cancers are rising and some scientists believe that this could be related to the increased level of UV rays penetrating the thinning ozone layer, therefore making us more vulnerable to sun exposure. However, a simpler explanation could be because many people are also not taking the necessary precautions in the sun.

How can we prevent sun exposure that leads to age spots and potentially, skin cancer?

Untitled-1Firstly, avoid tanning booths. They have now been banned in many countries as they immediately pose a threat of skin cancer. Too much tanning can cause age spots to form more easily and so the easy way to avoid this is to limit your exposure to UV light.

Try not to get sunburn. There are now a wide selection of products on the market today which all vary in SPF (Sun Protection Factor) levels for the desired level of protection. For example, factor 15 is commonly used as it protects from 93% of harmful UV rays. However factor 50 protects from 98% and is highly recommended to those who have paler, more vulnerable skin, such as small children. More commonly today, can you also find make up products which act as an SPF once applied.

Up your in take of Vitamin C. Studies have shown that high levels of Vitamin C which is rich in anti-oxidants, can help break down the enzyme in the skin which causes age spots to form and also protect you from free radicals. This can also be found in Stratum C Pigment Correction Gel.

Apply your sunscreen approximately 30 minutes before you go outside. This is equally as important in winter, as you are still being exposed to sunlight.

Use Stratum C Pigment Correction Gel – a unique combination of several powerful active but natural ingredients which helps to reduce the appearance of existing spots and prevent new ones from forming. Vitamin C is combined with natural Bellis Perennis Extract which have been shown in clinical trials to reduce the production of Tyrosinase by 50%. Additionally an extract of olive leaves called Oleuropin is included which has been proven to both prevent the formation of Lipofuscin and to reduce the appearance of existing age spots. It also contains Hyaluronic Acid for intense moisturisation which helps to improve collagen synthesis and fight ageing. The Vitamin C content also provides fantastic antioxidant protection, as mentioned above. This gel leaves a wonderful sheen on your skin and tingles a little, so you know the ingredients are really working. It should ideally be applied 3 times a day and is recommended for the face and hands, which spend more time in the sunlight. For more information on this product, please visit www.stratumc.com.

If you have concerns about age spots or skin cancer, you should seek advice from a healthcare professional. We have also included some helpful links below for more information. Follow our #30daysofautumnskin campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, starting 1st October 2014.

http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Cancerinformation/Cancertypes/Skin/Skincancer.aspx

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cancer-of-the-skin/Pages/Introduction.aspx

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/type/skin-cancer/

http://www.skincancer.org

http://www.britishskinfoundation.org.uk/SkinInformation/SkinCancer.aspx