Are dark patches keeping you down? Waking up one morning with pigmentation on your skin can be quite a shock and disappointing. It is essential that we first come to understand what causes this kind of pigmentation. Today we explore the causes, prevention and possible treatment options for your dark patches!
Causes for dark patches on the face
Dark patches on the face are commonly due to hyperpigmentation. When your skin produces more melanin than usual, dark patches appear!
Common causes for this include:
1. Overexposure to the sun
Exposing your skin to the sun for a long time leads to dark spots. Melanin reacts to the sun by producing more melanin. This is why sun-exposed areas of the body develop dark patches more often than other areas of the body.
2. Hormonal changes
Hormones may trigger melasma in the skin, which results in hyperpigmentation. E.g., dark patches are more common in women, especially during pregnancy. This is mainly due to drastic hormonal changes.
3. Side effects from taking pills
Certain medicines increase skin pigmentation that leads to dark spots. Medications that are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), tetracyclines, and psychotropic drugs usually cause dark patches like this.
4. End result of skin infections and inflammations
Commonly, dark spots usually follow Inflammation and infections.
Note: Inflammation may occur for various reasons that cause injury to the skin, including acne, eczema, or psoriasis.
5. Wound healing
Cuts, insect bites and burns are usually covered up by darker skin. Fortunately, it lightens by itself with time.
6. Skin irritation
Some skin and hair cosmetics can irritate and affect your skin, causing irritation and eventually dark patches to appear.
Diabetes can cause areas of the skin to become darker too. Many diabetic patients usually develop dark velvety patches on the skin, which are often confused with age spots.
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How to prevent dark spots?
You can reduce the chances of dark spots and prevent them from getting darker by following these dermatologists advised tips:
- Use sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 every day, even during non-sunny days. Apply it even while staying indoors.
- Wear sunglasses to protect the delicate skin around your eyes.
- Treat acne sooner before it turns into inflammation and leads to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
- Avoid going out in the sun (if you can) between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is the hottest and harshest.
Sometimes, you can’t prevent dark spots. And that is also okay. For example, hormonal changes during pregnancy may lead to melasma. We can’t stop this. Consult your doctor or a dermatologist if you need help!
How to treat dark spots?
Dark spots don’t vanish suddenly. It takes a while to see the difference, but treatment often lightens the spots. Dark spots on the skin may not completely fade depending on the depth and severity.
Start with sunscreen
Sunscreen prevents further darkening of dark patches. Look out for ‘won’t clog pores’ or ‘non-comedogenic on the label of your sunscreens. This will help prevent acne, which could lead to more dark spots.
Self-medications, over-the-counter medicines and commercial skin lightening creams which claim to reduce dark spots are not 100% safe. Some ingredients can be very harmful to your skin and your health.
For, e.g., most of the commercially available skin lighteners contain potent steroids that can damage the structure of your skin when used without a prescription.
Dark spots and patches can be a challenge to treat; you may want to see a dermatologist. A dermatologist has the expertise to combine treatments to help you get the best results safely.
Dark Spot treatments by Dermatologists
A dermatologist may recommend one of the following treatments for dark spots on your skin:
In this treatment, intense pulse laser light is applied to treat dark spots on the skin.
The light targets melanin and breaks up the dark spots.
This process involves a unique device that has an abrasive surface that is used to remove the outer layer of the skin. This treatment promotes collagen growth to reduce dark patches on the face.
Here, a chemical solution is applied to the skin. It exfoliates the top skin layer and gives way for new skin growth.
Prescription skin-lightening cream
Prescription skin-lightening creams work by bleaching the skin. It typically works gradually and takes several months to decrease the appearance of dark spots.
It is best to let a Dermatologist judge what is the best course of action for your skin instead of judging it yourself.
The silver lining
Dark patches can be a bummer, but with a proper understanding of them and their causes, you can tackle them head-on. Never hesitate to reach out to a skin specialist for help when you need it. And remember, you don’t have to live with dark patches. You can treat them.
1. Do dark spots cause harm? Should I worry?
Dark spots on the skin are not harmful. Many choose to remove them for cosmetic reasons. But you must do this only under the supervision of a dermatologist.
2. What disease causes the darkening of the skin?
Addison disease can lead to a lack of cortisol production and result in dark pigmentation on scars, elbows etc.
3. Is the discolouration of the skin normal?
Yes, discolouration of the skin is normal, and there are many different causes for it. You do not have to worry too much about it.
4. What does melasma look like?
Melasma appears as flat, dark patches that usually occur on the forehead, nose and cheeks.
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