Age spots

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Latest Edit: Hector 2013-08-02 (EDT)

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Age Spots
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See Also Dermatology / Skin Conditions
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Liver spots, also known as age spots, solar lentigo, or senile freckles are benign macules or patches or areas of discolouration typically found on the hands, face, shoulders, arms, forehead, and scalp. The colouration is typically light brown to red or black. Liver spots can occur at any age, but are more common in individuals 40 years old or older.

Naturopathic Assessment

The assessment of liver spots is typically done by inspection of the skin. Typically only when there is a change in the spots such as increased hyperkeratosis or change in coloration is further investigation required.

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Causal Factors

In order to stimulate the innate ability of the body to heal the causes of disease must be identified and addressed. The skin is the body's largest organ of detoxification. Changes in skin coloration and the formation of age spots are typically associated with increased sun exposure, yet there are other factors that need to be considered.


  • The melanin pigments in the skin absorb sunlight which naturally protects the skin from UV rays. As a person ages, the skin's natural ability to handle UV rays can deteriorate which increases the risk of developing age spots due to increased sun exposure. [1].


  • The chemicals in personal care products, including sunscreens may contribute to the formation of liver or age spots.

Medical Interventions

  • Prescription Medications
  • Medications need to be detoxed through the liver. There is a correlation between taking medications and the formation of liver spots, especially those that appear on the arms and legs.
  • Medications that increase ones sensitivity to the sun may contribute to the formation of sun damage and the formation of age spots.
  • Individuals with psoriasis who receive PUVA therapy or efalizumab may be at an increased risk of developing age spots.[2]
  • Liver spots may develop in children after use of topical tacrolimus for atopic dermatitis.[3]


  • The skin is the largest organ in the body. It is involved in the release of toxins from the body. Age spots are associated with an increased need for the body to detoxify.


  • The influence that genetics has on aging is largely associated with environmental conditions such as degree of sun exposure nonetheless genetic factors likely play a role in development of pigmented spots or age spots. [4].
  • Solar lentigines are more abundant in fair-skinned whites than in dark-skinned individuals, in whom the disease is distinctly uncommon because they have a greater amount of natural pigment that provides some degree of photoprotection.


  • Age spots are hyperpigmented macules occurring in irregular shapes with histologic changes such as elongated rete ridges with increased melanin at the tips however the number of melanocytes is not increased.[5].
  • Age spots appear as painless light brown-to-black areas on the skin known as macules or papules that tend to appear more commonly on Caucasion individuals. These spot are similar to freckles yet have a tendency to be larger and to increase in number and size with age.

Naturopathic Treatment

The goal of naturopathic treatment is to support and work in tandem with the healing power of the body and to address the causal factors of disease with individual treatment strategies.

It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor before engaging in any treatment plan.

Home Care

From a naturopathic perspective the first goal is to prevent age spots using preventative measures such as the following:

  • It is healthy to spend time outside but you want to reduce the risk of sunburns by wearing protective clothing such as hats, long-sleeved shirts or pants especially when the sunlight is the most intense.
  • Choose chemical-free personal care products and natural sunscreens.
  • Ensure that you stay hydrated, especially when in the sun and afterwards.
  • After sun exposure use a chemical-free cream to re-hydrate the skin.
  • Choose clothing that allows the skin to breathe.
  • Encourage sweating as it assists in the skin's ability to detoxify. If you don't naturally sweat look into saunas or alkaline baths help the skin's ability to detox and can decrease the occurrence or severity of age spots.


Lifestyle recommendations include:

  • Consume a diet high in fruits, vegetables and lean protein to assist with the skin's ability to detoxify and cleanse.
  • Ensure you drink adequate water especially when in the sun.

Naturopathic Therapies

The prescribing of naturopathic therapies requires the guidance of a naturopathic doctor as it depends on a number of factors including the causal factors, a person's age, prescription medications, other conditions and symptoms and overall health. It is always advisable to work with a naturopathic doctor prior to taking any natural therapies. Age spots are not medically dangerous. The following therapies aid in the skin's and liver's ability to detoxify which can assist in decreasing the occurrence or severity of age spots.

Naturopathic Therapies for age spots include:

  • Homeopathics are often used to assist the skin's ability to detoxify.
  • Both laser and non-laser light sources are commonly used in the treatment of age spots.[7]


Reviewed by Iva Lloyd, BScH, RPE, ND [3]

  1. Berga S, Bowman M, Drossman D, Faling J, Frenkel E, Gabbard G et al. editors. 1992 The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and therapy 16th edition. Rathway: Merck & Co Inc.
  2. Vestergaard ME, Kossard S, Murrell DF (Dec 2009) Seborrhoeic keratoses appearing in sites of previous psoriasis plaques during treatment with efalizumab. Clin Exp Dermatol.;34(8):e564-6. PMID: 19508488.
  3. Hickey JR, Robson A, Barker JN, Smith CH (Jan 2005) Does topical tacrolimus induce lentigines in children with atopic dermatitis? A report of three cases. Br J Dermatol.;152(1):152-4.
  4. Gunn DA, Rexbye H, Griffiths CE, Murray PG, Fereday A, Catt SD, Tomlin CC, Strongitharm BH, Perrett DI, Catt M, Mayes AE, Messenger AG, Green MR, van der Ouderaa F, Vaupel JW, Christensen K (2009) Why some women look young for their age. PLoS One;4(12). PMID:19956599.
  5. Situm M, Bulat V, Buljan M, Puljiz Z, Situm V, Bolanca Z. 2010 Senile lentigo--cosmetic or medical issue of the elderly population. Coll Antropol;34 Suppl 2:85-8. PMID:21302707
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 American Botanical Council, HerbClip accessed April 25th, 2012. [1]
  7. Stankiewicz K, Chuang G, Avram M (Feb 2012) Lentigines, laser, and melanoma: a case series and discussion. Lasers Surg Med.;44(2):112-6. PMID: 22334294.