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Age spots, insomnia

Created date

June 26th, 2014

Q. Are there any effective medications or cosmetics that will fade age spots?

A. Age spots can be treated in a number of ways. Over-the-counter creams containing hydroquinone or retinoids might lighten or fade them over a period of time. Prescription forms of these creams are also available. Any topical treatment, however, can have side-effects such as skin irritation, redness, or itching. Aside from creams, there are several procedures for eliminating age spots such as dermabrasion, cryosurgery, chemical peels, and laser treatments. Although age spots are not cancerous or precancerous, you still need a careful evaluation by a dermatologist to rule out other skin problems and to determine which treatment is best.

Q. I have no trouble falling asleep, but I always wake up in the middle of the night and cannot get back to sleep. Would a sleeping pill help?

A. Chronic insomnia is a problem for many older adults. There can be a number of reasons for it, including medication side-effects, underlying health problems, or a lack of physical activity during the daytime. Sleeping pills can be a short-term option, but only with the consent of your doctor. Many seniors take several other medications—any of which may interact with sleeping medicine. Over-the-counter sleep preparations usually contain diphenhydramine—an antihistamine that can be especially dangerous for seniors. 

Before trying sleep remedies, see your doctor to make sure medications or health conditions aren’t interfering with your sleep. Then try sleep hygiene practices, which include establishing a bedtime ritual, keeping your room dark and temperate, not eating large meals close to bedtime, and having a comfortable mattress. 

Dimitri Cefalu, M.D.

Medical Director,



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