Brown spots on skin are also called hyperpigmentation, solar lentigines, liver spots, dark spots or age spots. The name depends on the causes of the condition that occur mostly in the middle age. In most cases, brown or dark spots are caused as a result of past sun exposure or due to the artificial UV lights used during tanning. These skin spots can also be a reason for some skin conditions that are also side effects of certain medications.
Read on to know all about the brown spots on your skin and if you actually need to worry about it.
Brown Spots on Skin
Brown spots or dark spots do not always need treatment, but there are people who are conscious about their skin and appearance. So, if you have noticed dark spots on the skin and want to get away with it due to some cosmetic reasons, book an appointment with your dermatologist.
But, first let us know why the skin turns dark in the first place.
Why brown spots appear on your skin?
Generally, people having medium to dark-complexioned skin experience dark spots or patches as some element triggers formation of extra melanin. Melanin is the substance that gives color to your skin.
Some of the reasons why brown spots appear on your skin, include:
- A patch of psoriasis or pimple clears
- Use of certain medications
- Wound by an insect bite, burn, cut or any other type of injury starts healing
- Skin irritation due to a skin care or hair care product
- Hormonal changes in the body, like during pregnancy
If you are under treatment of a skin condition like psoriasis or acne to stop the breakouts or flare-ups, you can avoid the chances of skin discoloration. This way the dark spots will naturally fade away over time.
Similarly, if you notice a skincare product is discoloring your skin, discontinue its use and choose a gentler product that is soothing to your skin. This way you can prevent new dark spots to form on your skin and allow the spots to clear soon.
Brown spots take time to fade
Dark or brown spots do not fade overnight! After you stop using a certain thing that causes these stops, fading takes time. A dark spot usually takes 6-12 months to fade, when it is a few shades darker than your skin tone.
In case the color lies deep within your skin layers, it might even take years to fade. Discoloration lying deep within your skin appears stale blue or gray in color. It can be brown as well, but much darker than your skin color.
What is the treatment procedure for brown spots on skin?
To treat the brown spots, dark spots or age spots on your skin, book an appointment with a skilled dermatologist.
A dermatologist mostly offers creams and other procedures to lighten the brown spots. In some severe cases, they also suggest removing the dark spots. If you want an affordable way to treat brown spots, go with creams. But, if you want a long-term result, we recommend you to have a word with your skin specialist for the best treatment procedure.
Some of the most popular chemical-based procedures to treat brown spots include:
1. Laser treatment or intense light treatment
Both laser therapy and intense light therapies are wonders for treating brown spots. There are different kinds of lasers used, one of the most common being intense pulse light laser. The light reaches melanin and starts breaking the dark spots. The laser therapy reduces the amount of melanocytes in the skin, but without harming your skin.
But one of the problems with this kind of treatment is that it requires multiple sessions to show noticeable results, which makes it an expensive process. After the process, use a good SPF sun protection to stay safe from any damage to make sure you have minimum skin damage.
In this process, the dermatologist will use a special device having an abrasive surface to remove the external layer of your skin. The process encourages the growth of new collagen growth, which reduces spots. There are some side effects to look out for while opting dermabrasion such s as redness, irritation nd scabbing. However, these are temporary and fades away over time. When getting from a professional, there’s minimum chances of scabbing.
3. Chemical peels
It is a treatment process that involves burning of the skin using a chemical substance to form a new layer of your skin. You will need multiple sessions of chemical peels to attain the desired skin color. However, you should get this treatment from an experienced and skilled professional. Wear a high SPF sun protection after the chemical peel treatment. If not done right, it can leave behind significant discoloration of the skin.
It is a process involving an application of liquid nitrogen on the brown spots area in order to freeze the melanocytes. You an notice immediate results, once the skin heals. The only con of the treatment process is that it injures the skin and causes scarring, irritation, discoloration that during the process. However, the side-efefcts are not adverse and your skin helas over a short period of time.
5. Prescription skin-lightening cream
Prescription lightening creams are known for its bleaching property. It is a gradual process which takes several months to treat the problem. The main ingredient in skin-lightening creams is hydroquinone, which helps controlling the production of melanin. These products have strength of 3-4% in treating brown spots
As in case of skin-lightening creams, the main ingredient of bleach is hydroquinone. It is one of the traditional methods of treating brown or dark spots on skin. However, using it once in a while is alright, but do not get impatient and bleach your skin every day. It can result in various skin problems like dryness and skin damage.
Another important thing to note in this method is that you should seek help of a professional to apply beach on the affected area of your skin. Don’t leave it for too long as it will make your skin look undernourished and pale.
Home Remedies for brown spots on skin
Along with dermatological treatment methods and over-the-counter medicines or creams, you can also try out some home remedies to cure brown spots.
Over-the-counter skin creams can be used to lighten skin, but are not as efficient as prescribed medications, but you can still give it a try.
Serums and creams contain different ingredients, like alpha hydroxyl acid or retinol, which speeds up skin exfoliation and encourages new skin growth.
So, when you are looking for a skin-lightening cream, choose one that your dermatologist suggests. Some products might be harmful.
Natural remedies for brown spots
Products having some specific natural ingredients can help you treat the brown spots on the skin. A systematic review of some clinical studies published on the natural products used for treating brown spots on the skin. It focused on various ingredients such s soy, mulberry, niacinamide and licorice extracts.
Although it included limited studies, the researches claimed that the natural treatments promised lightening brown spots on skin.
A small-scale study of 2017 showed that using aloevera gel to treat dark spots on the skin helped reduce melasma in pregnant woman after 5 weeks.
Cosmetics don’t help in reducing dark spots, but they can cover them up well. A cream-based concealer can help you minimize the appearance of the spots.
Home remedies you should avoid
So, you came across a lot of home remedies for treating brown spots on skin on the web. But, how many of them can you totally trust? Well, you shouldn’t blindly follow all that’s out there on the Internet. Some ingredients even don’t have strong evidence to prove its role in treating brown spots and some might lead to certain side-effects. Some of the examples include, apple cider vinegar and lemon. There are no studies to claim these natural remedies.
There are cases of unproven treatment that can aggravate the skin condition. The American Society for Dermatological Surgery do not recommend abrasive scrubs or lemon juice as these treatments can worsen the condition of dark spots, making it darker.
Surprisingly, certain skin lightening products can also be harmful for you. Most of such products consists of elements that can have adverse effects on your skin and overall health, like steroids and mercury. Applying these over-the-counter creams can result in rashes, pimples and fragile skin with passing time.
Diagnosis of brown spots
When you go to a dermatologist for diagnosis of brown spots, thy will use a Wood’s lamp skin to test for the condition. They will ask you about your medical history and skin allergies, if any before finalizing a treatment for your condition.
In a physical exam, the doctor will conduct a Wood’s lamp skin exam, in which they see the spots through a device emitting black light.
There are instances when specific characteristics of the spots require more tests to ensure it’s not related to skin cancer.
Risk factors liked to brown spots on skin
Brown or dark spots can show up one anyone’s skin. However, there are some specific risk factors increases the risk of brown spots, such as:
- sun exposure
- skin conditions, such as acne, eczema, or psoriasis
- trauma or injury to the skin
- medications that increase pigmentation
- liver disease
Prevention of brown spots
Preventing brown spots occurrence is not always possible. For instance, hormonal imbalance during pregnancy is a natural phenomena that can’t prevent brown spots or melasma.
But, there are a few things that you can try to minimize your chances of having brown spots on your skin or prevent it from turning darker.
The useful preventative measures include:
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat when going out in the sun; wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
- Apply a high SPF sunscreen every day like you do to protect yourself from sunburn. Yes, even when there’s no sun!
- Avoid going out in the sun from 10:00 in the morning to 4:00 in the afternoon, as it is the period when the sun rays are the strongest.
- Treat skin conditions like acne as it might lead to inflammation of the skin.
Right time to see the doctor for brown spots
Mostly, the dark or brown spots on the skin are not harmful. But, sometimes it gets hard to differentiate between dark spots or patches on the skin and melanoma, a type of skin cancer.
So, if you are unsure about your skin condition or couldn’t recover from it since months now, you need to see dermatologist.
Here are some conditions that will help you understand when to seek a doctor’s help – when the brown spots:
- appear suddenly
- changes color or size
Ways to differentiate between age spot and skin cancer
To understand the difference between age spots, dark spots or brown spots and skin cancer, you should know about the symptoms of skin cancer well.
Melanoma or skin cancer can be recognized in the following way:
- Asymmetry: both the sides look different from each other
- Border: If the borders are jagged, irregular and not in a proper round shape.
- Color: If the skin color is darker more than one shade or uneven.
- Diameter: see if the diameter is larger than an eraser.
- Evolving: Did you notice any changes in color, shape, size over the last few weeks or months? Is it bleeding or itchy?
If you notice any of the above-mentioned signs, seek professional supervision, book an appointment with your dermatologist right away.
The Bottom Line
Brown spots on the skin or hyperpigmentation can occur due to various causes. It is usually harmless and needs no particular treatment. If you want to get rid of brown spots, you can seek advice from a skilled dermatologist for the range of treatments available. Alternatively, you can try the over the counter products to reduce the dark spots on your skin.
The effectiveness of your treatment depends on different factors like the type of spots, the duration it has been there and their extent.