Uneven pigmentation (often referred to as hyperpigmentation) is a common problem. Darkened areas of the skin are symptoms of hyperpigmentation. The spots vary in size and can be located anywhere on the body. Dark spots regularly exposed to the sun are known as age spots or sun spots. Often they appear on the face, hands and other parts of the body.
Features of skin pigmentation, what causes dark spots on the body?
Forms pigment spots on the face of an excess of melanin (pigment that gives the skin a dark color). Excessive sun exposure can cause an increase in melanin and this causes dark spots on the skin called age spots or sun spots. Sun spots and age spots are one and the same. They are a common form of pigmentation, and appear as small, flat, dark patches of skin that range from light brown to black. They are most common in people over 40 (hence the name), but can occur earlier.
Hyperpigmentation is a common, usually harmless condition in which areas of the skin become darker in color than normal skin. This darkening can appear in people of any race.
What causes skin pigmentation
Sun damage is the most common cause of pigmentation. Usually affects the skin on those parts of the body that are often exposed to the sun. Reasons include:
- certain drugs, including chemotherapy drugs;
- pregnancy hormones;
- endocrine diseases such as Addison’s disease;
- Skin irritation or injury
The overproduction of melanin by the body protects the skin from UV rays. Various living conditions can change the production of coloring pigment in our body.
Types of hyperpigmentation. There are several types, the most common are:
- sun exposure;
- skin inflammation;
- medical problems.
Dark spots on the face: the cause. Excessive exposure to the sun increases the amount of melanin produced by the skin, dark spots appear on the face. Freckles, age spots and other dark spots most often appear on exposed areas of the body: face, neck, décolleté, shoulders, forearms and hands.
Hyperpigmentation is a direct result of increased levels of hormones in the body, resulting in increased melanin synthesis. Some medications and chemotherapy drugs can cause hyperpigmentation as a side effect.
Melasma is not a dangerous disease, but it can seriously affect a person’s cosmetic appearance. In this acquired condition, brown spots appear on the skin of the face and neck. Melasma patches are similar in appearance to pigmented age spots, they are larger areas of darkened skin. They most often appear as a result of hormonal changes.
Pregnancy changes hormone levels and can affect melanin production in some women. Dark spots can appear on any part of the body, but most often they appear on the stomach and face.
Women who take birth control pills can also develop hyperpigmentation as their bodies undergo similar hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. If the pigment is really bothering, birth control pills should be discontinued.
Melasma usually goes away when the pregnancy ends or the person stops taking birth control pills.
If it remains, it can be treated with certain prescription creams and some over-the-counter skin care products.
Pay attention! Although often referred to as the “pregnancy mask”, this condition can also develop in men.
Sun spots, also called liver spots, are common. They are associated with excessive exposure to the sun. They usually appear as patches on sun-exposed areas such as the hands and face.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is the result of trauma or inflammation of the skin. A common cause of this type is acne, skin injuries, including some surgeries, can leave dark spots after recovery. Topical treatment chemicals can also sometimes cause spots.
Freckles are small brown spots that can appear anywhere on the body, but are most commonly found on the face and hands.
A rare endocrine disease called Addison’s disease affects the adrenal glands. May cause hyperpigmentation on sun-exposed areas such as face, neck and hands, as well as friction-prone areas such as elbows and knees.
Hemochromatosis is an inherited disorder in which too much iron accumulates in the body. This can cause serious damage to the heart, liver, and pancreas, and cause pigmentation.
How to remove age spots
Most prescription creams used for skin lightening contain hydroquinone. The cream penetrates the skin and prevents melanin from coloring skin cells, brightens and discolors darkened areas of the skin, slowing down the production of melanin.
How to protect yourself:
- using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30;
- wear head coverings or clothing that blocks sunlight;
- avoid sun exposure during the time of day when it is strongest, usually between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.
More info! For age spots, use sunscreen daily. Reapply every 2 hours if you are in the sun and more often if you are sweating or swimming.
Sunscreen is the most important factor in treating most causes of dark spots.
Currently, in cosmetology, there are highly effective procedures for lightening age spots. For procedures such as chemical peels, microneedling, laser or light therapy, it is important to consult a certified dermatologist.
You can lighten areas of hyperpigmentation with natural remedies.
- Aloe vera. Aloesin, a compound present in aloe vera, can lighten hyperpigmentation. It inhibits the production of melanin in the skin. Aloe vera gel can be applied daily directly to the skin.
- Licorice. Licorice extract, called glabridin, may have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and skin whitening effects. Use creams containing glabridin on darkened areas.
- Green tea. Green tea extracts can reduce hyperpigmentation.
- Apple cider vinegar Acetic acid can lighten pigmentation. Mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water in a container. Apply to dark spots and leave for two to three minutes.
- Milk. Lactic acid effectively lightens age spots.
Any remedy can only be used after a test for a possible allergy
In some cases, dark patches disappear on their own with good sun protection. In other cases, more aggressive treatment is required. There is no guarantee that dark spots will completely disappear, even after treatment.