No matter how light or dark your skin tone is, it's likely that at some point during your life, you'll find yourself dealing with hyperpigmentation: AKA dark spots. Hyperpigmentation develops when the skin produces more melanin, or pigment, in one area than in others.
Although dark spots are often harmless, they can be a cause for concern in some cases. They can also make you feel self-conscious, depending on where they're located and how big they are. Here's your guide to demystifying dark spots, including what you can do to fade areas of hyperpigmentation or otherwise even out your skin tone.
Freckles are one of the most common types of hyperpigmentation. They are usually tiny brown spots that appear on the skin, often in areas that get a lot of sun exposure, such as the face. Often, a combination of your genes and how much time you spend in the sun determines whether or not you end up with freckles. Many people with freckles notice that the tiny spots are lighter in the winter or when they don't spend much time outside and that the spots become more obvious when their sun exposure increases.
Some people are happy with their freckles and don't want to cover them up or erase them. Others are fine with the number of freckles they have but don't want more. It's often possible to prevent additional freckles from forming. Wearing sunscreen and minimizing sun exposure will both help. If you aren't happy with your freckles, a laser treatment or a chemical peel can help to fade them.
Sun spots or age spots have one thing in common with freckles: They are caused by sun exposure. But while someone's genes often determine whether or not a person has freckled skin, it's really only sun exposure that's responsible for sun or age spots. Also, as their name suggests, age or sun spots usually don't begin to appear on the skin until later in life, often after the age of 40. Sun or age spots often develop on areas of the skin that have had significant sun exposure, such as the face and the hands.
Age spots also tend to be larger than freckles, often have a scalier texture and can be a different color, usually anywhere from a light yellow-brown to a dark brown. If you notice sun or age spots on your skin, one way to treat them is with a laser resurfacing procedure. A laser treatment will cause the darker pigmentation to fade away, eventually restoring an even skin tone.
Like freckles, moles are a common type of dark spot on the skin. Some people have a few moles, while others can have hundreds of them. Many people are born with moles, but it is possible for them to appear on the skin later on.
While moles are usually harmless, there is a chance for them to evolve and change into melanoma, a type of skin cancer. For that reason, if you have moles, it's important to keep an eye on them and to work with a doctor to detect any changes.
Even if a mole isn't a cancer risk, you might want to have it removed for cosmetic reasons. A mole can be surgically removed from the skin. In some cases, laser treatments can help to reduce the appearance of moles or remove them entirely.
While some dark spots develop as a result of sun exposure, others form because of hormones. Melasma, sometimes called the "mask of pregnancy," is an example of hormone-related hyperpigmentation. It can develop when a woman is pregnant or taking birth control pills. It usually fades after a woman gives birth or stops taking hormonal birth control.
In some cases, hyperpigmentation develops as a result of skin irritation or inflammation. One example of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is dark spots that can develop after a pimple heals. Dark spots can also form in the area around a scab or scar. Treatments such as intense pulsed light (IPL) might help to fade any dark spots left behind after a scab, pimple or another mild skin injury.
Dr. Haitham Masri and Dr. Fatina Masri each have more than two decades of experience performing plastic surgery and non-surgical skin procedures. They offer a range of effective facial and body procedures to suit different needs. They can help decide on the best course of action to take regarding any dark spots or hyperpigmentation on your skin. To schedule your free patient consultation at Masri Clinic for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery, call (866) 487-3223 today.