fbpx vie magazine subscribe button

When Does a Freckle Become an Age Spot?

By Kimberly Moskowitz, MS, MD

The familiar freckle is a cute little brown dot that eventually shows up in childhood after unprotected sun exposure. Contrary to popular belief, we are not born with freckles. We are born with the ability to make freckles based on our genetics and skin tone, but our skin will not make a freckle if not challenged by the sun to do so.

Melanocytes, the pigment-producing cells in the skin, are stimulated by the sun’s ultraviolet radiation to overproduce melanin. Similar to callousing, this is the skin’s way of protecting or shielding the skin’s deeper layers from injury. This protective mechanism can manifest as a suntan, a freckle, or an “age spot.”

Freckles are the initial manifestation of sun exposure and sun damage. Freckles are round with smooth borders and are most numerous when we are young. They darken in the summertime and fade in the winter. As years go by and the summertime “freckles” fade, you begin to notice that some of those cute little dots that once graced your cheeks and forehead remain but have morphed into tan or brown spots with irregular borders. Age spots, I presume? So when exactly does this metamorphic calamity occur?

vie magazine when does a freckle become an age spot skin age spot suntan

The term “age spot” is actually a misnomer—or at least an overstatement. These flat unsightly lesions on the backs of hands, face, chest, and forearms increase in proportion to the amount of sun exposure we accumulate over time. This means that they usually don’t show up on our skin until we reach our thirties or forties. As excess melanin becomes “clumped” in the skin, people with sun spots also develop mottled, uneven skin pigmentation, or melasma. Although age spots become more prominent as we grow older, someone who has endured significant sun exposure or indoor tanning can develop them as early as their teens or twenties. Age spots, more accurately called sun spots, are usually harmless; they don’t disappear in the winter; and sadly, they never go away unless they are treated.

As the forties have become the new thirties and “baby boomers” have moved middle age from the forties to the fifties, there are now more “middle-aged” women than ever looking to preserve their youthful appearance. So how do we heal these marks of time?  No doubt, the sun is the skin’s greatest enemy. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the best way to prevent all aspects of sun damage, including sun spots, wrinkles, and skin cancer, is to (1) minimize sun exposure, and (2) apply, daily, a broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen with zinc oxide thirty minutes before going outside and reapply every two to three hours. Topical creams containing hydroquinone and Retin-A work together to slow down the production of abnormal pigment produced by melanocytes. Topical vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) and Retin-A have been shown to scavenge free radicals, repair cancer-causing DNA mutations caused by the sun’s UV rays, and soften fine lines and sun spots.

vie magazine when does a freckle become an age spot skin age spot suntan

As 2010 celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the laser, we have grown increasingly fascinated with light and its biodiversity in healing the skin and body. Photorejuvenation, a.k.a. IPL treatments, are the “gold standard” for treating freckles, sun spots, dilated facial capillaries, and most forms of sun damage. A series of three to six fifteen-minute treatments can eliminate 85–95 percent of sun spots. If your face, neck, and chest have more severe damage, including fine lines and wrinkles, Fraxel re:pair or Fraxel re:store laser treatments erase sun spots and abundantly stimulate collagen in the dermis to tighten loose skin and restore youthful elasticity.  Fraxel is the reason many of those Hollywood actresses seem to be getting younger instead of older. Fraxel re:pair, touted as “the nonsurgical face-lift,” instantly repairs and tightens sun-damaged skin, making your skin look a decade younger in seven to ten days.

vie magazine when does a freckle become an age spot skin age spot suntan

vie magazine when does a freckle become an age spot skin age spot suntan
vie magazine when does a freckle become an age spot skin age spot suntan

Lasers procedures such as Fraxel work by causing thermal injury to the skin, which then provokes a healing response. These laser procedures produce dramatic results, but we are learning that sometimes the nature of phototherapy does not lie entirely in thermal injury.  Researchers and clinicians have been working with noninvasive visible light in the form of light emitting diodes (LED), which naturally stimulate intracellular processes that heal cells. Blue, red, and yellow LED lights are being used alone for wrinkle reduction, skin rejuvenation, and acne, or to enhance the results of other procedures such as chemical peels, lasers, photodynamic therapy (PDT) and IPL. Red and yellow lights have been shown to increase collagen production, reduce abnormal melanin production, and reduce the healing time of Fraxel treatments by as much as 50 percent.

While there may be a fine line between a freckle and an “age spot,” the future of aging skin looks bright; however, it is critical to start protecting and repairing your skin early because, after all ... sun damage doesn’t happen overnight.

— V —

Kimberly D. Moskowitz, MS, MD Board Certified, Internal Medicine & Phlebology Skin and Laser Medicine Specialist Medical School: Georgetown University Residency Training: Georgetown University Hospital Fellow: American Board of Phlebology Member: American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery Cosmetic Vein & Laser Center 12238 Panama City Beach Parkway Panama City Beach, Fla. 32407 www.skinandveins.com

Read Responsibly

VIE Magazine - The Art & Design Issue November 2021
VIE Magazine January 2021 Special Commemorative Edition
VIE Magazine September 2020 Wanderlust Issue, Fancy Camps, The Idea Boutique
VIE Magazine August 2020 Art & Culture Issue, Nathan Alan Yoakum Art
VIE Magazine - Architecture & Design Issue - July 2020
VIE Magazine - Decor and Home Issue - June 2020
VIE Magazine May 2020 Entertainment Issue, Leslie Odom Jr
VIE Magazine - April 2020 Culinary Issue
VIE Magazine March 2020 The Fashion Edit, VONDOM, Alys Beach Fl, Digital Graffiti, Tres Chic, isidro dunbar Modern Interiors, Digital Graffiti Festival
VIE Magazine February 2020 Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Travel Issue - January 2020 - Tanzania Safari Cover
VIE Magazine - Women's Issue - December 2019 - Tina Brown Cover
VIE NOV19 Goodness Issue
VIE Magazine, September 2019 Art & Culture Issue, Paul Hanninen
VIE Magazine - August 2019 - The Architecture and Design Issue
VIE Magazine - July 2019 - The Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - June 2019 - Fashion Edit
VIE Magazine - May 2019 - Culinary Issue
VIE Magazine - April 2019 - The Health & Wellness Issue
VIE Magazine - Special Entertainment Edition - March 2019
VIE Magazine February 2019 Luxury Homes & Technology Issue with Robbie Antonio of Revolution Precrafted
VIE Magazine - January 2019 - Southern Sophisticate Issue Cover
VIE Magazine - Special Anniversary Travel Edition - December 2018
VIE Magazine - The Goodness Issue - November 2018
VIE Magazine - The Art & Culture Issue - October 2018
VIE Magazine - Home & Garden Issue - September 2018
VIE Magazine - August 2018 Animal Issue
VIE Magazine - July 2018 Architecture & Design Issue - Subscribe to the magazine!
VIE Magazine - June 2018 Travel & Tech Issue
VIE Magazine - May 2018 Couture Issue
VIE Magazine - The Culinary Issue - April 2018 Cover - Chef James Briscione and Brooke Parkhurst
VIE Magazine - The Entertainers Issue - March 2018
VIE Magazine - February 2018 Destination Travel Issue
VIE Magazine - January 2018 Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine, The Sophisticate Issue, December 2017
VIE Magazine - November 2017 Art & Culture Issue
VIE Magazine - October 2017 Home & Garden Issue
VIE Magazine | September 2017 | The Stories and Storytellers Issue
VIE Magazine - The Adventure Issue - August 2017
VIE Magazine - July 2017 - Art & Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - The Voyager Issue - June 2017
VIE magazine 2017 March-April Cover South Walton Fashion Week
VIE Magazine - January/February 2017 - The Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Nov/Dec 2016 The Sophisticate Issue
christian siriano vie magazine september october 2016 vie magazine
the modern minimalist issue
the culinary and couture issue march april 2016 vie magazine
the voyager issue alys beach vie magazine january february 2016
cultural issue vie magazine november december 2015
home and garden issue vie magazine september october 2015
the art and style issue vie magazine july august 2015
the wedding issue 2015 May June vie magazine
the food and fashion issue vie magazine march april 2015
the travel issue vie magazine january february 2015
the music issue vie magazine 2014 november december
The Animal Issue vie magazine september october 2014
the home and garden issue vie magazine july august 2014
the wedding issue vie magazine may june 2014
emeril lagasse food and fashion vie magazine
the men's issue january february 2014
the music issue november december 2013 vie magazine
the home and garden issue 2013 october september
the wedding issue vie magazine july august 2013
the artist issue may june 2013 vie magazine
the food and fashion issue march april 2013
the men's issue january february 2013 vie magazine
The Holiday Issue
the love issue july august 2012
the all american summer may june 2012
the entertainment issue march april 2012
the fashion issue vie magazine winter 2011
the home and garden issue vie magazine fall 2011
the anniversary edition vie magazine summer 2011
the wedding issue vie magazine spring 2011
vie magazine the holiday issue 2010 Dec
vintage swimsuits vie magazine 2010 Fall
judith march designer vie magazine summer 2010
wedding giveaway vie magazine spring 2010
holiday gift guide vie magazine winter 2009
emarketing explosion vie magazine fall 2009
tribute to mother's day vie magazine summer 2009
james and robert redford vie magazine spring 2009
zz top vie magazine fall winter 2008
project dreams vie magazine new york fashion week
Sign-up for VIEmail

Sign up for VIEmail