Fit and Fabulous Over 40


Age Spots or Skin Cancer?

Age Spots or Skin Cancer?
June 20
12:30 2017

Age Spots or Skin Cancer?

The cosmetic industry is making millions of dollars on products that either remove or cover what most women define as age spots. As one grows older, darker spots and blemishes begin to show. Some women wear their age spots with pride but many see them as a sign of aging that they don’t want to admit to, so they’ll spend countless dollars trying to make them go away or hide them from the eyes of others.

Many women begin to panic when they see age spots begin to appear. In addition to the unsightliness of them and a sign of growing older, many women fear they may be developing skin cancer.

So, what are ago spots and how does one tell them apart from skin cancer? Are age spots the same thing your grandmother called liver spots? According to one website:

“Age spots are very common and are usually harmless. When you hit 50 years old, you’ll probably start seeing age spots on your skin, especially if you have pale complexion. They’re caused by years of exposure to UV rays from the sun. If you’re out in the sun a lot, you may start getting age spots earlier than usual. That’s why it’s so important to take care of your skin while in the sun!”

“You’ll usually find age spots on your hands, shoulders, arms, tops of your feet and upper back. These are the areas of your body that see the sun the most. Though age spots vary in size, you’ll usually see the following characteristics when identifying an age spot, according to Mayo Clinic:”

  • Flat and oval areas of skin discoloration
  • Tan, black or brown in color
  • Appear in areas that are commonly exposed to the sun”

Yes, age spots are the same thing your grandmother called liver spots, however, they have nothing to do with the liver and everything to do with the sun’s effect on one’s skin.

Age spots are just a sign of aging, but often a sign of how much time a person spent in the sun. Early on, age spots can look a lot like skin cancer.

To help differentiate skin cancer from age spots, the same site states:

“Here’s what to look for when identifying skin cancers, according to The Skin Cancer Foundation:”

  • Any new growths, including moles.
  • Any existing growths that change in size, shape, color, elevation or any other way.
  • Lesions that change, don’t heal, bleed or itch.

“Although melanoma accounts for less than 2% of all skin cancer cases, it is the cause of most skin cancer deaths, according to The Skin Cancer Foundation. That’s pretty scary. If you see a strange spot on your skin, make sure you look for the ABCDE signs of melanoma:”

  • Asymmetry. Draw an invisible line through the growth. If the two sides aren’t equal, then it is asymmetrical – a warning sign that you might have melanoma.
  • Border. The edges of early melanoma are typically uneven and notched.
  • Color. Melanoma usually isn’t all one solid color. You may see different shades of brown, black, tan, or even red, white or blue.
  • Diameter. Benign growths are typically smaller than melanoma. Although melanoma may be smaller in the very early stages, it’s usually bigger than the eraser on a pencil tip.
  • Evolution. Unlike normal moles, melanoma changes over time. If you see any changes in your growth’s characteristics, such as a change in color, elevation, size or symptoms (bleeding, itching, crusting), you should see a doctor.”

In addition to the sun causing age spots and skin cancer, one of the biggest culprits today are tanning beds. True, that many women look better and healthier with a nice tan, but whether the tan is obtained directly from the sun or a tanning bed, it could deadlier than it is aesthetic. In fact, tanning beds are more harmful than direct sunlight as the UV light waves which causes the skin pigments to darken, are more intense in a tanning bed than those from direct sunlight.

The bottom line, is you spend, or spent, much time outside in the sun and if you have lighter or fairer skin, then you should see a doctor or dermatologist periodically. Let an expert determine if you have age spots, moles or skin cancer. The earlier skin cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat and overcome.

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