Age spots, or liver spots, are flat areas of brown pigment that often occur on the backs of the hands.

Despite their name, these flat or rounded brown spots aren't caused by age. They are simply areas of excess pigment, which result from years of exposure to sunlight. Because it takes decades to see the results of sun damage, many people don't notice the marks until later in life, but people who have had significant sun exposure can develop them in their twenties and thirties. Some drugs can make you more vulnerable to sun damage and related age spots. These include diuretics, tetracycline and drugs for diabetes and high blood pressure.

 

The best way to prevent them–and to protect yourself from skin cancer, too–is by using plenty of sunscreen. If you already have age spots, there are plenty of treatments available. Look for an over-the-counter fading cream or apply a simple, natural bleaching agent. Bear in mind that it can take several months to see an improvement. And from now on, make sure you never leave the house without proper sun protection.

If an age spot changes

Age spots, which usually look like dark, smooth freckles, are generally harmless. However, if a spot starts to tingle, itch, change size or colour or bleed, you should see your doctor. Some skin cancers, like melanoma, can look like age spots. If home remedies don't work on your age spots, your GP may recommend getting rid of them using laser treatment or by applying liquid nitrogen.