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    Hyperpigmentation, commonly referred to as “age spots,” is one of the easiest skin conditions to prevent but one of the hardest to get rid of once it occurs. Take a look around at arms, hands, chests and faces of those around you. In all likelihood you’ll see dark patches. No matter how much Botox or filler you get, these spots are a dead giveaway to advancing age.

    But unlike some skin conditions that are organically induced and thus preventable, age spots are almost entirely preventable. They are caused by one thing – too much sun exposure. Many of us, when we were young, didn’t know any better and sat for hours in the sun covered with Bain de Soleil; our sun spots are the inevitable result. But it’s not only sitting at the beach that causes dark patches on the skin, most commonly affecting the face, chest, and hands. Did you ever notice that the left side of your face has more brown spots than the right? These too are caused by sun exposure – in this case from sitting in the driver’s seat of your car with the sun coming through the window.

    Prevention is key, and the easiest way to prevent age spots is to wear sunscreen every day, summer and winter, rain or shine. Make sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30. Broad spectrum means that the sunscreen blocks the sun’s UVA (aging rays) as well as UVB (burning rays). Look for an antioxidant sunscreen. Antioxidants give added protection against free radicals, which also contribute to skin aging.

    As an added boost to sun protection, you may wish to consider Fernblock is a supplement for its impact on helping the body’s ability to fight off sun damage. Also, an anti-oxidant rich diet (lots of fruits, vegetables and certain teas) can also enhance the body’s ability to protect itself…as well as enhance overall skin quality and health.

    If prevention waved bye bye to you long ago, have no fear. There are many different ways to treat hyper-pigmentation, some of them available over the counter (OTC). Topical solutions are the cheapest and most widely available option. Products that exfoliate the skin, in combination with a regimen of anti-oxidants and skin lighteners, can be effective to start the skin brightening process. But if you do choose this strategy, be sure you carefully read the labels. And research any ingredients with which you are unfamiliar. For example, the preservatives and additives that are found in many OTC products have toxic side effects in the body.

    If you are looking for professional treatment of your age spots, the options are many. The most basic and conservative treatment is dermatological and topical. Medical grade products may contain many of the same ingredients as OTC skin brighteners, but at a much higher concentration. Hydroquinone, a bleaching agent, is usually the topical of choice in dermatology offices. People usually get optimal results after about twelve weeks of use.

    Often used in combination with topical products, skin-resurfacing treatments like microdermabrasion or chemical peels may get you enough lightening if the sun damage is not too severe. These treatments are not invasive at all and require no down time. However, because the treatments are so mild, it usually requires many visits. Though your skin inevitably looks refreshed after microdermabrasion and peels, the impact on age spots cannot be guaranteed and may vary depending on their severity.

    Those of you who are looking to reverse years of laying in tanning beds or sitting on the beach covered in baby oil and using aluminum foil covered reflectors are likely going to need to be a bit more aggressive with your treatments. Laser and intense pulsed light treatments, deeper chemical peels, enhanced microdermabrasion and combination therapies will yield the best results. Although these options are more expensive than the spa microdermabrasion, you get more bang for your buck. Medical grade peels vary in strength and can require two to fourteen days of down time. Medical grade microdermabrasion mechanically exfoliates the skin more deeply than typically done in salons and spas, yet there is still no downtime. Laser treatments are a great way to reverse sun damage. IPL (pulsed light) treatments are probably the most common for hyperpigmentation of the skin. Waves of light actually target dark pigment in the skin and attack it. Treatments are quick with minimal discomfort, and result in an overall improvement to the appearance of the skin.

    Before having any of these treatments, just realize that none are an absolute cure. They may fade the youthful indiscretions that are now reflected, years later, on your skin, but nothing will keep you from getting new age spots in the future except limiting sun exposure. Most of these options require several treatments and a maintenance schedule is recommended to preserve the original investment and to continue to fight off aging changes. So, if you’re going to continue to bake in the sun or even just walk down the street without adequate sun protection, save your money and move to the shore!

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