Liver Spots on the Skin – What Does This Mean?
Have you ever noticed those little brown spots on your skin that never used to be there before? I know I have a few and often wondered why I was “speckling”. If you have wondered what those spots are and if you can treat them, then look no further ! This article is for you!
Let’s dive right into liver spots on the skin and what they mean. We hope you not sitting in the sun reading this one for too long!
What are Liver Spots on the Skin?
As we age, we are likely to develop liver spots on the skin. What exactly are these spots that my children refer to as speckles? Liver spots, also known as age spots or sunspots, are small dark spots on the skin, almost like an oversized freckle. These spots are usually visible on areas that are exposed to the sun such as your neck, arms, hands, and shoulders. Age spots can affect people of all skin colors, but are more common in adults with lighter skin. Unlike freckles, liver spots don’t fade and can darken with increased sun exposure.
Liver spots are extremely common in people over the age of 40 and can also appear on the skin of younger people who spend a lot of time in the sun.
How to Spot a Liver Spot:
Liver spots are flat and are commonly oval or round in shape. They are usually dark brown but can be light brown or tan. Liver spots can be the size of a small freckle or as large as 1.5cm. As mentioned above, these spots usually form in areas that are exposed to the sun and can also group together making them more visible.
What Causes Liver spots?
The sun is the main cause of these age spots. Your skin is made up of melanin which gives your skin its pigment (or color). The sun illuminates ultraviolet rays (UV) which speed up the production of melanin and causes the skin to darken or become more tanned. This is why some of us can achieve that summer bronze look by sunbathing. Unless of course, you are like me and step out into the sun and instantly turn berry red!
However, the summer goddess look doesn’t come without future problems. After years of UV exposure, the melanin builds up in some areas and is higher in concentration, leaving darker spots on the skin. These liver spots are medically called solar lentiginosis because they are caused by the sun.
Maybe you are feeling better about achieving your tan in a tan can but tanning beds also produce the same problem even if you are not tanning directly in the sun. Tanning beds also use ultraviolet rays, and whilst they are artificial, they cause the same rapid production of melanin as the sun does.
Some people are more susceptible to developing these liver spots because of their genetic makeup. Fair people with blonde or red hair, for example, are more likely to develop liver spots from sun exposure.
When is a Liver Spot not Just a Spot:
While liver spots are generally of no concern, there are some other spots that may resemble a liver spot and may need medical attention.
When you need to see a doctor:
If you see any of the following changes or characteristics in your age spots, make an appointment to see your doctor or dermatologist and have them checked out.
- Change in color – if your spot has become almost black or if it is a strange combination of colors.
- If the spot has an irregular border (if it’s not a round shape).
- If you experience any redness, itching, bleeding, or sensitivity on the spot or the area surrounding it.
Even if you don’t have any of these symptoms but you feel concerned about a specific spot, it is always better to consult your doctor. Liver spots can often look the same as other skin conditions such as:
- Melanoma – a malignant skin cancer.
- Lentigo Maligna – a type of skin cancer.
- Keratosis – a non-cancerous growth.
Your doctor or dermatologist will clarify the type of spot that you have so that you can proceed with the correct treatment.
How to Treat Liver Spots:
Prevention is always better than cure! This is especially the case with the human body. Your first line of defense against age spots is to protect your skin from the sun. When you are outdoors, always wear protective clothing (hats, sleeved clothing, rash vests, etc.) and a good quality sunscreen with a high SPF factor. Sunscreens are quite controversial these days but many great natural options are available. When choosing a sunscreen, look for a broad spectrum one that has UVA, UVB, and UV light protection.
If you are part of the vast majority who already have a few (or many) of these age spots popping up all over your body, all hope is not lost. There are some treatments available that can help the spots fade or they can be removed.
There are more invasive procedures that your dermatologist can help you with. If you are looking to completely remove the spots, you can have them lasered off or “burnt” off with liquid nitrogen which is more commonly known as Cryotherapy. You can also choose a more medical approach by using chemical peels or chemical creams to help lighten or fade the spots, but these come with their own risks that could potentially cause more harm than good!
I regularly exfoliate my skin to get rid of dead or damaged skin cells and to make room for new healthy skin cells to grow. You can buy a body brush or exfoliating sponge to do this, or you can use a home-made body scrub.
To make your own body scrub combine 1 cup of granulated sugar with ½ a cup of coconut or olive oil. You can add essential oils such as grapefruit which is great for its detoxifying components. Use this scrub by rubbing it into your skin in a circular motion and rinsing it off with warm water. To see results you need to exfoliate regularly, but not too often otherwise it can also cause damage to your skin. 3 to 4 times a week is the recommendation.
Oatmeal is no longer just breakfast anymore, it is a great exfoliation and helps clear away all those dead skin cells, not to mention its incredible anti-inflammatory properties for the skin. To make a natural exfoliant using oatmeal to reduce sunspots, mix 3 tablespoons of oatmeal, 1 tablespoon of honey, and 1 tablespoon of milk in a bowl to make a thick paste. Once the mask has dried completely on the skin, rinse with water only. The oatmeal exfoliates the skin whilst the honey moisturizes and the milk helps remove the dark spots.
To avoid dry patches on your skin you should moisturize regularly, especially after exfoliating. This will help hydrate and nourish your skin and it will give it a healthier appearance despite any dry or dark spots. Choose a moisturizer that has natural ingredients such as coconut oil and Shea Butter that will assist your skin in the healing process. Vitamin E oil can help repair and prevent sunspots. Have a look at our article on Aloe Vera to see how this natural wonder can help heal your skin: What is the benefits of Aloe Vera.
You may be familiar with cucumbers being placed over the eyes at spa days or when applying face masks. This is because cucumbers have been used for years to moisturize and rejuvenate the skin. Cucumbers have very high water content and contain antioxidants and vitamins that are helpful for skin discolorations including acne scars, liver spots, and dark circles under the eyes.
Honey is another great natural moisturizer that offers a host of valuable health benefits for the skin. Honey is an antibacterial agent and is packed full of antioxidants that help fight damaging free radicals and slow down aging. Raw honey is the best to use because it contains all of the vitamins and nutrients that are beneficial for your skin and age spots. Apply raw honey with your fingertips and rub it into the skin. Leave for 20 minutes before washing off with water. This natural treatment can be used daily. Honey will help exfoliate the skin and it will remove dead pigmented skin cells, thus stimulating the growth of healthy new skin cells.
Change your Diet:
By choosing to eat an anti-ageing diet you can not only reduce the appearance of liver spots, but you will have healthier-looking skin. Eat a diet rich in Vitamins E, C, and A which all help repair damaged cells and are great for rejuvenation. We also suggest supplementing your diet with NON-GMO multivitamins and minerals so you are getting all the nutrition your body needs to heal itself from the inside out.
Add brightly colored berries to your diet, such as strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries. These berries are rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin K, antioxidants, and folic acids. Vitamin C stops the growth of free radicals that cause dark spots and thus prevent these liver spots from developing. Vitamin C protects the skin against sun damage, inflammation, and dryness.
Other great foods to include in the diet that is packed with vitamins to fight liver spots are:
- Sweet Potatoes.
Use Vitamins Topically:
In addition to eating a diet rich in nutrients and vitamins, you can choose skincare products that have an extra vitamin boost for your skin. Vitamin C is known for lightening pigment spots and for keeping your skin protected from free radical damage. It also reduces the signs of ageing.
Lemon juice is often used to combat age spots because it contains citric acid and Vitamin C which makes it an excellent natural bleaching agent for liver spots. Take one lemon and squeeze it into a bowl and add an equal amount of water. Use a cotton ball to apply the combination directly onto the areas of your skin that have the sunspots. Leave the mixture to sit for 20 minutes and then rinse with warm water only. Repeat this treatment for a couple of nights a week to allow the lemon juice to penetrate the skin and fade out the dark spots.
Buttermilk contains a high amount of lactic acid which acts to exfoliate and lighten the skin. The Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, and lactic acid contained in buttermilk help remove dead skin cells and naturally lighten pigmentation. Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, and biotin in buttermilk help boost the production of collagen. Apply buttermilk directly to the skin to help fight those age spots.
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day to flush out toxins and keep your skin looking radiant. Green tea is another excellent option because it is proven to reduce inflammation and redness caused by sun exposure. Researchers at the University of Georgia call the compounds in green tea “the fountain of youth for skin cells” because it helps rejuvenate the skin.
Magical Skin Doesn’t Need Sunshine:
Skin is the largest organ in the human body and is a true reflection of the health of your inner body. It is largely exposed so take extra care to look after your skin. Wear a hat and always use sunscreen. Whilst liver spots can be treated, always make sure you keep a careful eye on them.
Beauty is skin deep, so stay out of the sun because the golden glow is simply not worth it!