What are Dark Spots on Skin?

What are Dark Spots?

Ever look down at your arms, legs or any other area of your body and see small, flat, dark areas of the skin staring back at you? These spots, also referred to as hyperpigmentation, happen because that part of the skin has produced more melanin than the rest of the body. Melanin is a substance that the body naturally produces pigment for the hair, eyes and skin tone. More melanin means darker hair, eyes and skin. Each individual’s melanin production depends on their genetics and family history. These dark spots can also be referred to as age spots, sunspots or liver spots.

So, what are dark spots and how do these random spots on the body become darker than the rest? When the skin cells that produce the melanin become damaged in some way, excess melanin is produced and tends to bond together in certain areas of the skin, causing those areas to appear like spots of darker skin.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, one of the main reasons patients with darker skin tones go to see a dermatologist is because of dark spots. It’s common to see in people who already have dark skin tones because their bodies are already producing more melanin than those with lighter skin, so it may be easier for their cells to produce more melanin.

Dark Spots on Skin

Dark Spots on Skin

While an overproduction of melanin is a main risk factor for developing dark spots, there are other risk factors to watch out for as well, including genetics (for example, having freckles is a type of hyperpigmentation of the skin), hormonal changes that occur during puberty or pregnancy or health conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disorder, or Addison’s disease, which is an adrenal disorder that causes a decrease of cortisol production in the body.

It can also be caused by melasma,which is a skin condition that causes discolored patches on the skin, and is most common in pregnant women or those taking hormones or oral contraceptives. It’s no cause for concern. It doesn’t feel painful or itch, and it typically fades on its own.

Other risk factors for dark spots include acne, inflammation such as an injury or a skin condition like eczema or psoriasis, UV damage from the sun or a tanning bed, vitamin deficiency, reacting to medication or some kind of topical, or getting a tattoo. Hyperpigmentation does not always signify disease, however you should always get dark spots checked out by a dermatologist or skin care professional just to rule out the possibility that they could be something more. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to your health and wellbeing.

Dark spots on skin look different on everyone. The shade of brown can range from light to dark, and can sometimes even appear blue; the size can be as small as a freckle, as large as a quarter, or cover whole parts of the body. You can develop dark spots anywhere on the body, but the most common areas are the face, arms, legs, back, shoulders or the hands — all areas that are most often exposed to the sun.

Dark Spots Treatment

For the most part, dark spots are not harmful and do not need to be removed from the skin for any other reason other than cosmetic purposes. Dermatologists and other medical skin care professionals might offer certain kinds of prescription creams that will help to lighten or remove them, but there are medical procedures available as well. The true test of the best dark spots treatment for each individual patient will depend on the cause of the spots, the area it is on the body, and its size and severity.

The most common types of treatments available for treating dark spots include microdermabrasion, chemical peels, cryotherapy and laser treatment. Microdermabrasion is a form of skincare treatment that involves actually removing the top layer of skin to promote the growth of collagen in the skin. Chemical peels essentially do the same thing, except this treatment uses an exfoliating solution rather than a medical device like microdermabrasion. Cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen to basically freeze off the dark areas of skin, allowing new properly pigmented skin to grow in its place.

Aside from skin treatment procedures, there are also over-the-counter creams that may work, and sometimes simply covering up the spots with makeup will do the trick. For those who prefer a more natural and holistic form of treatment, there have been some studies that have shown that ingredients such as licorice extract, mulberry, soy and niacinamide can also have a positive effect on lightening up dark spots.

Laser Therapy to Remove Dark SpotsLaser Therapy to Remove Dark Spots

Laser therapy is what we use most often at Fox Vein & Laser Experts, but we use chemical peels for dark spots treatment as well. Our skin experts will perform a consultation to determine which treatment option is best for the patient based upon the factors mentioned above.

Reversing Dark Spots

For laser treatment, we use the PicoWay laser, a fractional laser that provides quick, safe, and effective results with no side effects and no need for surgery, or any downtime following a procedure. The laser works by emitting short and fast beams of concentrated light into the targeted area of the skin. The beams of light break up the pigmentation, which are then absorbed by the body and naturally removed. The skin in the treated area will fade back to its natural color and become more even toned with the rest of the body.

Laser treatment can be used to treat a wide variety of dark spots including freckles, lentigines, which are benign lesions that occur where sun hits the skin most often; cafe-au-lait spots also known as birthmarks; and Nevus of Ota, hyperpigmentation that occurs around the eyes.

Chemical Peels Treatment to Remove Dark Spots

Chemical peels are another option, especially if you are looking for something that is very quick since treatments can take as little as 20 minutes.

Even if you don’t have any dark spots, there are preventative measures you should take to prevent them from happening as best you can. We always stress the importance of wearing at least SPF 30 every single day, even if you are not directly in the sun. Wearing a hat, sunglasses, and SPF-protective clothing adds an extra layer of safety. If you do suffer from skin conditions that could turn into dark spots, make sure to see a dermatologist to determine the proper care-taking strategy.

Contact us at Fox Vein & Laser Experts

If dark spots are a cosmetic concern for you, call our office today at 954-627-1045 to schedule a consultation with our team at Fox Vein & Laser Experts to see which dark spots treatment can best address your concerns.