What can get rid of age spots?
If you feel that age spots are telling people you’re past your prime, you may be able to fade those spots significantly. Sometimes, you can even get rid of them.
Before you treat age spots, however, you should know a few facts. These facts can protect your health and help you to get the best results.
Many treatment options are available for age spots
You’ll find 2 types of treatment for age spots:
Creams and lotions
Procedures, which include laser therapy and chemical peels, tend to work faster. Procedures also cost more and have a higher risk of causing side effects.
Creams and lotions, however, require discipline. To see results, you have to apply a cream or lotion once or twice a day for weeks or months.
Here’s what you should know about your treatment options.
Creams and lotions: You’ll find plenty of products that manufacturers claim will fade age spots. Many you can buy without a prescription.
If you’d prefer to use a cream or lotion to treat age spots, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends seeing a board-certified dermatologist first.
A dermatologist can tell you if an age spot is actually an age spot. Other spots that become more common on our skin with age, include seborrheic keratoses, actinic keratoses, and skin cancer.
Skin cancer can be serious. If you use an age spot treatment to fade a skin cancer, this can give the cancer time to grow and possibly spread. A dermatologist can examine your skin and tell you if any of the spots could be skin cancer. When caught early, skin cancer is highly treatable.
If you have age spots, seeing a dermatologist can also save you time and money. You’ll find so many creams and lotions available that can fade age spots. It can be difficult to figure out which, if any, can help you.
Some people need a prescription-strength cream to fade age spots. A board-certified dermatologist can tell you whether a prescription-strength cream or procedure would be more effective for you.
Laser treatment (procedure): One or two laser treatments can treat age spots quickly, and you’ll likely have longer-lasting results than with a cream that can fade age spots.
Lasers can also cause some side effects, such as crusting or temporary darkening of age spots, which you won’t get with creams. These side effects tend to fade quickly.
Cryosurgery (procedure): This is a common treatment for age spots. During this procedure, a dermatologist freezes the age spots. As the skin heals, it has a more even skin tone.
Treatment can be painful, but it’s quick. After treatment, you may have some pain, a blister, or temporary redness and swelling.
Possible permanent side effects include darkening of an age spot, lightening of the skin around the age spot, or a scar. When a board-certified dermatologist performs cryosurgery, permanent side effects are rare.
Microdermabrasion (procedure): During this procedure, a dermatologist will smooth away age spots. Studies show this can be quite effective, especially when a patient also has a chemical peel.
In one study, some patients were treated with microdermabrasion once every two weeks for 16 weeks. About 40% of these patients saw their age spots completely disappear. The patients who received microdermabrasion and a chemical peel had better results. Half of these patients saw their age spots completely disappear.
After a microdermabrasion treatment, you may see mild inflammation. This will likely disappear in a few hours. In the above study, the patients also had flaky skin for three or four days.
Chemical peeling (procedure): This can effectively treat age spots on the hands. In a study that compared chemical peeling with cryosurgery, the researchers found that 47% of the patients receiving the chemical peel had a 50% fading of their age spots. While the patients who had cryosurgery had slightly better results, the skin tends to heal faster after a chemical peel than after freezing (cryosurgery).
What looks like an age spot could be skin cancer, so you should see a board-certified dermatologist for a skin exam before treating age spots.
Sun protection is essential after treating age spots
No matter which treatment you choose, it’s important to know that age spots can return. You can prevent this by protecting your skin from the sun.
To get the protection you need, dermatologists recommend that you seek shade and cover your skin with sun-protective clothing. Examples of sun-protective clothing and accessories, include a light-weight and long-sleeve shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses with UV protection.
For more effective protection from clothing, look for clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) label.
To protect your skin from the sun, you also need to apply sunscreen to all skin not covered by clothing. Apply sunscreen before you go outside. No just any sunscreen will do. You need a sunscreen that offers:
SPF 30 or higher
Dermatologists help patients find the right treatment
With so many treatment options available, it can be hard to know which to choose. A dermatologist has the expertise needed to create a treatment plan tailored to your individual needs.
You can find a board-certified dermatologist who can help you by going to, Find a Dermatologist. From the Specialty drop-down menu, choose Cosmetic Dermatology.
American Academy of Dermatology. “Choose a qualified health care provider for dermatologic procedures.” News release issued July 27, 2017.
Ortonne JP, Pandya AG, et al. “Treatment of solar lentigines.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2006;54(5 Suppl 2):S262-71.
Schilling, LM and Nazanin S. “Commentary on a prospective trial comparing Q-switched ruby laser and a triple combination skin-lightening cream in the treatment of solar lentigines.” Dermatol Surg. 2016;42:858-9.
Last updated: 9/28/21