By Alison Johnson
Special to Tribune Newspapers
2:10 PM EDT, July 27, 2011
Ask any dermatologist how to prevent brownish spots as you get older and you'll likely get the answer given by Dr. Elizabeth McBurney, clinical professor of dermatology at Louisiana State University School of Medicine: "Sunscreens, sunscreens, sunscreens!"
• Start early. Age spots are the result of a lifetime of exposure to the sun or tanning beds. Young people also aren't immune: damage can appear in people in their 20s.
• Pick the right sunscreen. Choose waterproof brands with a sun protection factor of at least 15 – McBurney suggests SPF 50 or higher – that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Put it on about 20 minutes before heading outside and reapply it every two hours.
• Pay attention to trouble areas. The back of your hands and your face and chest are most likely to develop age spots.
• Cover up. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sit under an umbrella and cover your arms and legs with lightweight fabrics. Remember that the sun's rays are most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
• Protect yourself in the car. Invest in a tinted or clear window screen that blocks UVA rays, which pass easily through glass.
• Be careful with certain nail polishes. New long-lasting shellac polishes use ultraviolet light to harden and can cause freckling on the backs of hands. Put on sunscreen before that procedure.
• Live healthy. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits and exercise regularly to improve blood circulation to skin.
• Consider treatment. Fade creams, chemical peels and laser resurfacing can reduce or eliminate age spots. Also consult a doctor to make sure any new spots aren't something dangerous.
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