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Skin pigmentation: How to get rid of liver spots

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Skin pigmentation
Liver spots, dark spots, brown spots: Whatever you call them, those pesky dark marks are annoying and we want to get rid of them!

According to a survey conducted by Boots No 7, of the 1,000 women over the age of 40 they spoke to, the factor that caused them the same amount of bother as wrinkles was, yep, you guessed it, liver spots, with 36% revealing that age spots worried them.

Technically known as a type of 'hyperpigmentation', this occurs when the melanin in your skin overproduces in certain areas, causing spots or patches that look darker than the rest of your skin to form.

Although hyperpigmentation is not dangerous, one of the major causes of liver spots is, so it's worth knowing what the causes are to ensure you're looking after your skin the best you can, and to prevent more marks appearing.

If you're fed up with the way liver spots look then don't worry, there are also a few treatments and products you can try to diminish the look of them too.

Do I have liver spots?

Dr Hadi Abushaira, a renowned Senior Consultant Dermatologist, says liver spots can appear in many places than just your face: 'They're most often found on the face, hands and forearms, and are larger and more defined than freckles.' He also states that they may become lighter during the winter months.


Liver spots are larger and more defined than freckles, and can often be found on hands

Causes of liver spots

Sun exposure
Many people note that one of the main causes of liver spots is 'old age', which is technically true, but really it means many years exposed to UV light from the sun (although of course using a sun bed can have the same effect, meaning they can be just as common in younger people too).

This is because UV light speeds up the production of melanin, creating a tan, which helps protect deeper layers of skin from UV rays. Liver spots are caused when the melanin gathers in one area, or is produced in particularly high concentrations.

Hormones
It's true that an increase in estrogen (from pregnancy or the contraceptive pill) could cause the muddy-looking brown marks, but it's worth noting that hormones only make you more susceptible to this, and the brown marks still only appear after sun exposure.

Genetics
It's also thought that genetics can play a part in liver spots, so even if you've been careful in the sun you may find them difficult to avoid.

Liver spots are common in people over 40, but younger people can get them too if their skin is over exposed to the sun. They're harmless, but it's important to keep an eye on spots that are dark or change in appearance, as this could be a sign of melanoma, a form of skin cancer. 'If you are in doubt about your brown skin lesion, then you should seek dermatological advise', says Dr Hadi.



Preventing liver spots

With that said, the best way to prevent liver spots appearing is to be cautious in the sun. It goes without saying, but if you're going to be in the sun then reapply sun cream every two hours, and make sure you use at least a factor 30 or above.

If you're really concerned about liver spots then you need to be avoiding exposing your skin to high levels of UV as much as you can. Seek shade at the hottest parts of the day and keep skin covered! Afterall, those with pale skin may not have a tan, but will likely not have liver spots either...

How to get of liver spots

Products

If you have liver spots then don't worry, with the right treatments and products they can be lightened or removed. It's a misconception that dark spots 'melt away' - in fact, they need to be removed up and out of the skin, the same as you would with a patch of dry skin or a spot.

That's why it's important to begin with a scrub. A product with Vitamin C is particularly good for dark spot sufferers, as it can help speed up the process of getting rid of the marks. The Body Shop Vitamin C Microdermabrasion scrub contains exfoliating micro particles ready to scrape away those pesky liver spots.

Because sun damage is the main cause of liver spots, it's also important to make sure you apply SPF daily. Bioderma White Objective fluid not only contains SPF 25, but it works to lighten and even out the surface with a depigmentation action at the same time.

Finish with a serum specially designed to target dark spots - Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector visibly reduces dark spots, age spots and traces of past acne too!


The Body Shop Vitamin C Microdermabrasion scrub, Bioderma White Objective fluid and Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector are all great for removing dark spots

Hands can suffer just as much as faces, afterall, they're often exposed to the sun without us even thinking about applying SPF to them. Slather on Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Visibly Renew hand cream, which makes skin soft, supple and prevents brown spots too thanks to its SPF content.



Continued below...


Treatments

They are some more invasive treatments available to get rid of liver spots. 'Chemical peels, cryotherapy using liquid nitrogen and laser therapy' are all options according to Dr Hadi, but of course come with a price tag. The Skin Laser Clinic provides a treatment to get rid of brown spots that uses a 'powerful beam of green that shines through the outer layer of the skin. The brown pigment absorbs the light energy and gets very hot for a fraction of a second. This is enough to break up the pigment.' This costs £200 for an initial colsultation and between £100-£200 for the treatment, depending on the size of the area. We may stick with our creams for now!

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