Why Your Skin Has so Many Discolorations as You Age

If you’re middle-aged or older, you probably have noticed changes in your skin. You may have some areas of skin that are darker than your normal tone, or you may have scaly patches. The spots are likely on skin that’s been exposed to the elements, such as your face and hands, but they can also appear on your:

These changes in your skin can be quite disconcerting and even be a blow to your self-confidence if they appear prominently on your face. You want your smooth, even skin tone back. 

Our board-certified dermatologists and medical team at Seacoast Dermatology have treated thousands of patients with different types of skin discolorations. To help you understand these changes in your skin, we put together information on some of the most common types of discolorations.

Age spots

Many discolorations turn out to be age spots. They’re normally flat spots that range from tan to dark brown. They may even be gray or black and can be a half inch or more in diameter. 

Why do I have age spots?

There are three major reasons for age spots, also called liver spots or sunspots.  


Skin discolorations often occur in those over age 50. Just as other systems in your body experience wear-and-tear, your skin becomes thinner and drier as you age and is more prone to develop scaly patches and discolorations. 

Your skin doesn’t produce as much collagen and elastin as you grow older, proteins that keep your skin smooth, plump, and healthy. 

Sun and tanning bed exposure

Your skin contains melanin, the pigment that produces your skin color. The more melanin you have, the darker your skin. If you have a tan, light from the sun or tanning bed has increased the amount of melanin in your skin, so your skin becomes darker.

If you’re a sun worshipper, you are more prone to develop skin discolorations as you age. Over time, the melanin can clump together, with an overproduction in small areas, causing age spots.  

Light skin tone

People with lighter skin are more prone to age spots. If you’re fair-skinned, you don’t have as much of the protective melanin as darker-skinned people. If you have too much sun exposure and can’t really tan, you may end up with age spots. 

Other skin discolorations

Aside from age spots, there are other types of skin discolorations associated with aging. 

Seborrheic keratosis

Unlike age spots’ flat areas, seborrheic keratosis may cause scaly, raised areas on your head, neck, chest, or back. But like age spots, they range from tan and brown to black, and they’re more common in those over age 50. 

Genetics also plays a role in these discolorations. You may want them removed if they itch when they rub against your clothes. 

Dermatosis papulosa 

Dermatosis papulosa normally affects those with darker-toned skin. This condition is characterized by very small, dark-colored raised areas of skin that may appear on your face and neck. Like seborrheic keratoses and age spots, these aren’t dangerous, but if you have a lot of them, you may not consider them a beauty asset. 

Treatments for skin discolorations

We have a range of treatments for these skin discolorations, including laser therapy, Blue-U® photodynamic light therapy, and more. We examine your medical history and skin condition and recommend the treatment that we believe will give you the best results. 

Call or book online today for an appointment at one of our New Hampshire locations: Portsmouth, Dover, or Exeter. We’ll help you with skin rejuvenation treatment that turns back the years.

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