Age spots, skin tags, broken vessels—these common skin problems don’t pose any real health risks, but they can cause concern and frustration, especially as you age. Fortunately, you can treat some conditions cosmetically; others, however, may simply require acceptance as a normal part of life. Here’s how to approach your everyday skin concerns.
Broken Blood Vessels
If your skin looks red and blotchy, or you have what appear to be spider veins on your face, you may have broken facial capillaries. Broken blood vessels, also called telangiectasias, are actually thin reddish facial capillaries that have become enlarged or dilated. They typically appear around the chin, nose and cheeks.
Sun exposure, as well as rosacea, radiation treatment, and the use of birth control pills, can cause broken capillaries. Other factors include age, hormones and genetics.
Broken vessels aren’t threatening but you may want to minimize their appearance. Use a green-based concealer to help conceal enlarged capillaries, or ask your doctor about laser treatments to shrink them.
These small, hanging growths often appear on the neck, eyelids, groin, armpits and skin folds. While not dangerous to your health, they can be bothersome to some people.
Skin tags result from friction created when your skin rubs against skin, clothing or other items, such as bras, seat belts and jewelry. Because they often happen in the folds of skin, they’re common in patients with obesity or diabetes. Generally, there’s no way to prevent them, but reducing your weight can help.
Removing skin tags isn’t medically necessary unless they become inflamed or irritated. Treatment includes freezing with liquid nitrogen or surgical removal.
Solar lentigos, also known as age spots, sun spots or liver spots, are harmless darkened patches that form when UV light exposure causes melanin to accumulate in your skin cells. They appear in adulthood, naturally, in the areas of your body that get the most sun exposure, such as the face, legs, chest, hands, forearms and upper back.
Doctors can treat these signs of sun damage with chemical peels, prescription skin creams and laser procedures. Your best bet, however, is prevention. Minimize sun exposure to keep spots from developing or worsening. The earlier you start protecting your skin, the better.
Sometimes people mistake age spots for skin cancer. If you’re worried about a mole or blemish, make an appointment with your dermatologist to check it.
Your Skin's Lifelong Journey
Although treatments exist, you can’t turn back time. Benign skin problems often manifest when we age. Whether you want to seek treatment or accept them as part of who you are is entirely up to you.
If you do want blemishes removed, note that you can improve your appearance over time with treatment, but you have to protect your investment once you do. For example, if you have a lot of sun damage and spend money on laser skin resurfacing to achieve a flawless face, you’ll have to minimize continued sun exposure to keep it that way.
Whether you’ve had treatment or not, always use a daily sunscreen of at least SPF 30. This will help minimize future skin imperfections and ultimately help protect you from skin cancer.
Look up prescription and over-the-counter drug information.
Look up information helpful health information.
See our full library of diseases and conditions.
Practical info for Sutter patients.
Online tools to help you make decisions about your health.