Age spots are a type of harmless skin pigmentation caused by exposure to the sun. They are called age spots because they are more common in older people and their prevalence is directly related to ageing. They are also known as sun spots or "liver" spots and are referred to as "solar lentigines" by the medical profession. They can differ in colour and size but usually appear as small brown, grey or black spots.
Prolonged exposure to the sun over time causes pigmentation to form on the skin as a result of sun damage. Age spots are small patches of pigment or melanin that have formed as a result of this.
Because age spots are caused by the sun they tend to be found on areas that have most exposure to UVA/UVB rays such as the face, chest and hands.
Everyone can get age spots but they are most common in people over 50 and those with fair skin who don't have as much natural protection from the sun.