Seeing Spots?

Brown spots, age spots, liver spots, melasma and chloasma no matter how you identify these darkened areas on your skin, they remain just as unappealing as the names they are given. These darkened spots or patches can be brown, black, or gray in color and range in size and shape. They are not harmful, nor are they a health a concern. However, any changes in these areas should be examined by a doctor. These spots appear due to hyperpigmentation of the skin. Melanin, which gives skin its color, is found in the upper layer of the skin. When melanin is produced excessively, it may cluster, creating darkened spots on the skin. Excess creation of melanin is triggered by hormones, sun exposure, or a combination of these two factors.

Brown spots, age spots, or liver spots all describe darkened areas of the skin caused by over exposure to the sun. Typically, they are found on parts of the body not concealed from ultra-violet light: the face, the tops of hands and feet, and the shoulders. People with a lighter complexion are at a higher risk for brown spots. In addition to sun exposure, melasma and chloasma are also triggered by hormones. Women are at a higher risk for melasma, along with those with darker skin. Chloasma specifically refers to melasma brought on by the hormones of pregnancy.  These dark patches are commonly referred to as “the mask of pregnancy”. Treatment of these dark spots include the following:

  • Bleaching creams will lighten the skin.  Their active ingredient is hydroquinone.  Different strengths can be acquired. Over-the-counter and prescription strengths are available.
  • Chemical peels use acid to burn the outer layer of the skin. Multiple treatments are usually necessary before lightened, new skin is noticed.
  • Topical retinoids, like Cell-Tight, are used to safely and gradually lighten the skin. Retinoids encourage cell turnover in order to reveal new skin underneath.

It is important to note that none of these treatments cure dark areas forever. Recurrence of these dark areas are common when proper prevention is not practiced. Wear a hat and apply sunscreen on all exposed parts at least thirty minutes prior to going outdoors. Ultraviolet protection factor of 40 to 50 provide the best protection. Make sure to reapply sunscreen frequently and you will stop seeing spots!