Age spots on the face

Age spots are changes in the skin that occur more frequently with age. These changes are particularly common in areas of the body that are heavily exposed to the harmful UV radiation of sunlight in everyday life. One of the most common places where age spots occur is therefore the face. Although the frequently occurring pigmentary changes are not malignant, many people are bothered by cosmetic changes to their skin on the face. Age spots on the face often appear from the age of 40 and up, and then become more frequent as people get older.


Regardless of the appearance of the age spots, the pigmentation changes can be very different in size and brightness. The size of their diameter ranges from a fraction of a millimeter to a few centimeters in size. The shape is also usually very different.

They are usually elongated oval, but can also take on abstract forms. They can be easily distinguished from the surrounding skin because they are clearly distinguishable from it. Often the appearance of the spots is gradual and is not consciously perceived. The colour can also change with time and usually becomes darker. Especially if a change of the spots is noticed, however, a doctor should always be consulted for safety reasons.


The causes of age spots are manifold. Apart from age, there are other factors that favour the development of age spots. The most important cause of age spots on the skin is long-term UV exposure.

This risk factor plays a particularly important role in the face, as this part of the body is particularly exposed to harmful radiation. The consumption of alcohol and cigarettes is also one of the factors that can be influenced and which favour the development of age spots on the face. The use of tanning salons should also not be underestimated, as UV radiation is used to cause tanning of the skin.

In the long term, therefore, the use of tanning salons also poses a high risk of developing age spots and other pigmentation changes on the skin. The so-called melanin-producing cells play a prominent role in the development of age spots. These cells produce the substance melanin, which is responsible for how light or dark the human skin is and is supposed to protect us from the harmful UV-B radiation of sunlight.

Biochemically speaking, the cause of age spots is the proliferation of melanin-producing melanocytes in the skin. The reproduction of these cells of the body is promoted by exposure to sunlight. Deposits of the active ingredient lipofuscin are formed, which are superficially perceived as age spots.

From a biological point of view, therefore, these are deposits of harmless cell material which pose no risk. In contrast to melanomas, for example, there are no degenerated cells that could divide and possibly metastasize. If changes suddenly appear on the face, and it is suspected that age spots are involved, a doctor should be consulted in any case to be on the safe side, who can rule out malignant diagnoses.

The specialists in the field of diagnostics are specialists in dermatology. General practitioners can also examine the spots and confirm the diagnosis if necessary. This clarification is important because age spots are usually benign, but can also be easily confused.

Malignant changes in the face, especially the so-called lentigo maligna and actinic keratosis can easily be confused with the harmless age spots. These malignant forms of skin cancer must be diagnosed as quickly as possible and treatment must be initiated. Another possible confusion, especially in the face, can occur between age spots and the common freckles. However, the biochemical changes under the skin are different for both phenomena, which means that freckles, unlike age spots, are not visible all year round. The differential diagnosis of age spots is carried out by the dermatologist or general practitioner using a lamp specially developed for the diagnosis of skin changes.