Here's How to Get Rid of Liver Spots
Despite how young and fit we look, it is a known fact that your hands usually give your age away. This is because of their thinning skin and the appearance of dark patches, commonly known as liver spots. You may be wondering how to get rid of liver spots and this article offers insightful advice. Liver spots are harmless and do not need to be treated. However, you might want to lighten these age spots because you find them unsightly.
We look at what exactly liver spots are, different ways of how you can get rid of liver spots, including medical treatments and natural remedies. More serious skin conditions can also sometimes be confused with age spots so we will also talk about when you should consult your medical practitioner about skin blemishes.
What Are Liver Spots?
Liver spots, also called age spots, sun spots or solar lentigines, result from our lifetime of exposure to the sun. They appear mostly on the face, the back of the hands, shoulders, arms and the tops of feet.
These spots are patches of darker skin. They are usually tan to dark brown and have a defined border. They are typically flat but can be slightly raised. Most age spots are less than a quarter inch in diameter, but they could be much larger.
Liver spots are caused from sun exposure, leading to an overproduction of melanin. Melanin is the pigment in skin cells which is responsible for the color in our skin and hair. Age spots generally start to appear in people over 50 and fair-skinned people usually have more of them. Compared to freckles, age spots do not fade in the winter. Sometimes liver spots do not have the typical appearance described above, in which case they can be difficult to distinguish from skin conditions that need medical attention.
When You Should See a Doctor About Skin Blemishes
Melanoma in situ, a precursor to melanoma (a dangerous form of skin cancer), is often mistaken for liver spots. You should consult your doctor if you notice the following in a spot:
- The color black
- A combination of different or unusual colors
- Increasing in size
- An unusual shape and irregular borders
Liver spots do not need treatment, but for cosmetic reasons, you may want to lighten or have them removed. Your choices include medical treatments, over-the-counter medications or natural remedies.
Medical Treatments for Liver Spots
You doctor might prescribe bleaching creams which usually contain hydroquinone and possibly also retinoids, and a mild steroid. These creams will gradually fade liver spots over a period of a few months. Initially they might cause skin irritation like burning, redness and itching, but this is usually temporary.
The other medical treatments involve removing the top layer of the skin and this may require more than one session. These treatments are best done by a dermatologist, which is a doctor who specializes in skin conditions. The procedure is usually done in the doctor’s office and does not need hospitalization.
The treatments include:
- Laser therapy. This destroys the melanin-producing cells.
- Cryotherapy. This is where liquid nitrogen is applied to the spot for a few seconds.
- Dermabrasion or micro-dermabrasion. This is where the surface layer of the skin is removed.
- A chemical peel. This is where the top layer of the skin is removed with a chemical solution.
You should discuss the procedure, the healing time and the possible side effects with your doctor beforehand. With each of these treatments, the skin usually takes a while to heal and the potential side effects include scarring and permanent lightening or darkening. However, the risks are low if the procedure is performed by a qualified dermatologist. Because the treatments are cosmetic, they will usually not be covered by your medical insurance.
Over the Counter Treatments for Liver Spots
There are a number of non-prescription creams and lotions that you can obtain from your pharmacy. You can buy cream containing hydroquinone over the counter, but it contains less of the active ingredient than the cream you can get on prescription from your doctor. Other recommended creams for liver spots are those that contain glycolic acid or kojic acid.
These creams may initially cause skin irritation; therefore, it is important that you read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. You usually need to use the cream regularly for weeks or months to notice a marked difference.
Another pharmaceutical product that you can try is a solution of hydrogen peroxide mixed with enough baking soda to make a stiff paste. Dab the paste onto the age spots, let it dry and then rinse it off.
Before buying medicine or opting for medical treatment, you might want to try a natural remedy to lighten your liver spots. Many of the ingredients for these treatments are foods that you probably have in your kitchen already.
Natural Remedies for Liver Spots
All the following natural remedies for age spots have a skin bleaching action. As in the case of ointments and lotions, these remedies also need to be applied regularly over a period of time. You might want to take a photograph before you start so that you can see the difference after a few weeks.
Most of the natural remedies can also cause initial skin irritation, with some stinging and redness. We recommend that you test it on a small area first to see how your skin reacts.
Lemon juice bleaches and exfoliates the skin to lighten liver spots. Dab fresh lemon juice on the spots twice per day. Leave it on for about 30 minutes before rinsing the area with clean water. If you find that your skin is too sensitive for the full strength juice, you can dilute it with water.
Apple Cider Vinegar
You can use apple cider vinegar in the same way as lemon juice. You can also mix it with olive oil to soothe and soften your skin.
Yogurt, Milk or Buttermilk
The lactic acid in milk products exfoliates and bleaches age spots. In addition, vitamins D, B12, A and B6 can help make your skin healthier and more supple.
You can dab the product directly onto the liver spots. Alternatively, you can apply a skin pack made with one tablespoon of plain yogurt, two tablespoons of oatmeal and a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice.
Cucumber is commonly used to treat various changes in skin color. It is also cool and refreshing, with various antioxidants and vitamins. You can rub cucumber juice on the liver spots or cover the area with slices of cucumber. Leave it on for around 20 minutes or longer before rinsing.
Aloe vera is a well known treatment for various skin conditions, including age spots. Squeeze fresh aloe vera gel directly from the plant onto the liver spots. As its action is very gentle, you can leave it on for as long as you want to. You can also use fresh aloe vera juice if you are unable to get hold of a plant.
How to Prevent Liver Spots
As we have seen, liver spots are our skin’s reaction to excessive sun exposure. While you are treating your age spots, and after they have been successfully lightened, it is obvious that you should limit further exposure to the sun. Avoid sunlight, especially in the heat of midday. When you do go outside, apply sunscreen to the exposed areas of your skin. Now you know how to get rid of liver spots. Which natural remedy will you choose?
Remember, if you notice changes in the appearance of skin spots, you should consult your health care provider for a proper diagnosis.