Age spots typically develop in people with a fair complexion, but they can be seen in those with darker skin. Age spots:

  • Are flat, oval areas of increased pigmentation
  • Are usually tan, brown or black
  • Occur on skin that has had the most sun exposure over the years, such as the backs of hands, tops of feet, face, shoulders and upper back

Age spots range from freckle size to more than 1/2 inch (13 millimeters) across and can group together, making them more prominent.

When to see a doctor

You may not like the way they look, but age spots are usually harmless and don't require medical care. However, your doctor should evaluate spots that are dark or have changed in appearance, because these changes can be signs of melanoma, a serious form of skin cancer.

It's best to have any new skin changes evaluated by a doctor, especially if a spot or lesion:

  • Is darkly pigmented
  • Is rapidly increasing in size
  • Has an irregular border
  • Has an unusual combination of colors
  • Is accompanied by itching, redness, tenderness or bleeding
Apr. 10, 2014

You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.