The skin is a vulnerable organ. This is because it’s constantly bombarded by environmental stressors like UV radiation and pollution. These stressors can cause damage to the skin cells, which leads to inflammation and the formation of dark spots.
Anyone who has ever suffered from dark spots on their skin knows how frustrating and embarrassing they can be. These spots seemingly appear out of nowhere and can be challenging to treat. In this article, we will explore why these spots form and discuss some methods for treating them.
Dark Spots on Skin
You might have noticed some dark spots on your skin that isn’t there. It happens for various reasons, some so inconsequential that you might not have seen them. However, some reasons might be related to a particular chronic disease. The first reason that’ll be discussed is sun spots.
There are several different types of dark spots that can occur on the skin. The most common are age spots, also called sun spots. These are flat, brown, or black spots due to sun damage. They’re more common in people over 50, but they can also occur in younger people.
Sunspots form when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light. This damage causes the production of melanin, a dark pigment that absorbs UV light and protects the skin cells from further damage. Melanin is what gives our skin its color. When there’s an excess of melanin, it can result in dark spots on the skin.
There are several ways to treat sun spots. The most common is topical treatment with bleaching agents, like hydroquinone, kojic acid, or azelaic acid. These agents work by inhibiting the production of melanin. Another option is laser therapy, which can remove sun spots by breaking up the pigmentation with pulses of intense light.
Age spots are a type of sunspot that’s common in older adults. They tend to be larger than other types of sun spots and can occur on any area of the body that’s exposed to the sun. Age spots are usually harmless, but they can be a sign of skin cancer, so it’s vital to have them checked by a doctor if you’re concerned about them.
There are several treatment options for age spots. Like sun spots, they can be treated with bleaching agents and laser therapy. However, age spots can also be treated by cosmetic surgeries such as dermabrasion, which removes the top layer of skin, or microdermabrasion, which uses a high-pressure stream of particles to remove the top layer of skin.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is a type of dark spot that can occur after the skin is injured. It can happen due to acne, eczema, psoriasis, or any other condition that causes inflammation. When the skin is inflamed, it triggers melanin production, which can result in PIH.
PIH usually goes away on its own over time. However, some treatments can speed up the process. For example, laser therapy can drastically increase the skin’s recovery from inflammation, but it’s not suggested when it is still happening on the skin.
Constant hair removal using a razor or hair removal cream can also cause dark spots on the back and side of your arms. The friction caused by these methods can damage the skin and lead to can also cause dark spots on the skin.
Laser hair removal can also lead to dark spots in the skin because the laser damages the melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin. This damage can lead to inflammation and the formation of dark spots, especially in areas that tend to be tight, like the armpits. It’s the main reason many dermatologists suggest their patients get an underarm whitening laser treatment after a laser hair removal treatment on their armpits. The whitening laser can reverse the damages done by the hair removal laser and prevent the formation of dark spots.
Pigmented lesions are dark spots caused by an overgrowth of melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin. These lesions can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
Most pigmented lesions are benign, but it’s essential to get them checked by a doctor to rule out skin cancer. People can treat benign pigmented lesions with laser therapy, which destroys the overgrown melanocytes. Malignant pigmented lesions need to be removed with surgery.
There are several types of dark spots that can occur on the skin. However, getting the proper treatment for your specific type of dark spot can help clear up your skin and restore its natural appearance.