Dark Spots – How to Get Rid of Hyperpigmentation Through Medical and Natural Ways
It can be quite disturbing to look into the mirror and notice dark spots on the skin. You might wonder what is wrong or if it is anything serious going on your skin. While it may be harmless, but the weird complexion will certainly give you nightmares. Let’s look into the topic and know how we can eliminate dark spots through medical and home remedies.
You have probably heard of terms like age spots and liver spots, both these conditions refer to the same condition of dark spots or hyperpigmentation. Other terms used for this condition are sun spots and solar lentigines. These are small dark areas on your skin that appears due to overproduction of melanin or skin pigment and exposure to UV rays of the sun. The dark spots are also caused due to aging of the skin.
How common are dark spots?
Dark spots are common in older adults aged above 50. However, it can also affect younger people, especially those who spend a lot of time under the sun. People who have red hair or light skin are also likely to get dark spots.
Dark spots – Size and appearance
Dark spots usually vary in size about 13mm or half an inch across. They normally appear in a group and easily noticeable. Dark spots can develop anywhere on the skin, but most likely they appear on body parts that are more exposed to sunlight.
Dark spots appear on the face, shoulder, back of the hands, arms, upper back and top of the feet.
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How can we treat dark spots?
We have seen a lot when it comes to eliminating dark spots, but hype on the internet doesn’t mean success. Also, dark spots don’t pose any health risks, however, if you are worried about your skin complexion, dark spots can be eliminated through both medical and natural ways. We will underline each below.
Medications – Speeds up exfoliation
Currently, the most popular way of treating dark spots or age spots is the doctor prescribed bleaching creams containing active ingredient hydroquinone. This topical cream and serum can also be purchased over the counter. Hydroquinone is often used with tretinoin (retinoid) or with mild steroid which increases turnover of cells, speed up exfoliation and gradually diminish the spots.
The treatment may result in itching, burning or redness. It is recommended that this medication should be used on a short-term basis as it could have toxic effect. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.
There is a plethora of over the counter products available that claim to fade or lighten the dark spots. The most common compounds found in these creams include:
- Azelaic Acid
- Kojic Acid
- Alpha Hydroxy Acid
- Vitamin C
- Beta carotene
- Pomegranate extract
While the fact is these ingredients poses less amount of risks, you are not immune to allergic reaction.
Laser and pulse light treatment – Fades the dark areas
You can also opt for invasive options such as laser and intense pulse light therapy for lightening the dark spots. During this procedure, melanocytes (melanin-producing cells) are destroyed without causing harm to the surface of the skin. This treatment is covered in 2-3 sessions and over several weeks.
Though it’s needless to say this treatment works faster than topical solutions, there are risks of side effects such as swelling, bruising, tightness, redness, scarring, infection and even discoloration of the skin texture. You might be advised sun protection after this treatment.
Dermabrasion and microdermabrasion – Removes dead skin cells
During dermabrasion, a rapidly rotating brush is used to sand or plane the surface layer of the skin. This method replaces the old skin and a new layer of skin grows in place of that. You need to undergo this procedure a couple of times and may experience temporary redness and crust formation on the area.
If you want to go for a less aggressive or non-invasive treatment, then microdermabrasion is the one to choose. This treatment removes the superficial layer containing dry and dead skin cells and leaves only mild skin marks with a lot more smoother appearance.
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Chemical peeling – Replaces the old skin
This technique involves topical application of an acid, usually containing active ingredient glycolic or salicylic acid. This chemical solution burns the outer layer of the skin and after peeling off, new skin forms on its place. You may experience temporary redness or a slight change in skin texture. You must avoid exposure to sun after this treatment.
Cryotherapy – Removes extra pigment
The dermatologist will use a cotton-tipped swab to apply liquid nitrogen or some another freezing agent to eliminate extra pigment. Gradually, the skin becomes lighter as the area begins to heal. This procedure is typically used on a single dark spot or maybe on a small group, depending on the case.
Like other procedures, this method also poses some risk such as discoloration or permanent scarring of the skin.
Internet is flooded with natural treatments for removing the dark spots. Although these treatments lack scientific backing, there is no harm in applying these directly on the skin:
- Papaya juice – Contains alpha-hydroxy acids that help exfoliate the skin.
- Buttermilk or yogurt – Contains lactic acid popular for its exfoliating effects. Can also be used in combination with honey.
- Lemon juice – High in vitamin C that causes bleaching effect.
- Aloe vera – Speeds up skin regeneration.
- Sandalwood oil – One of the most popular essential oil used in aromatherapy, sandalwood oil is also touted to have an anti-aging effect.
Avoiding damage to the skin is the first preventive method against dark spots and the best way is to avoid long sun exposure. Secondly, healthy skin diet may help you in keeping off skin conditions or delay the effects of aging.
If you are confused about your skin condition, you must visit a dermatologist. The doctor may be able to visually diagnose the condition and guide you towards choosing the best option. He may conduct biopsy to check for cancer or other abnormalities.