what causes dark spots

One of the most challenging skin problems for people of color is the appearance of dark spots on face. Dark spots on skin result from an accumulation of dark pigment underneath the skin, which can occur during any period in your life – from the time of birth through your golden years. Although dark spots are problematic for people of all skin colors, skin discolorations are especially dramatic on black skin and brown skin because of the high levels of melanin present. The first step in managing dark spots is understanding what causes them – and then using the right treatments to keep dark spots in check.

Dark Spots on Face: Common Triggers

Learn what causes dark spots on your face.

The clinical term for dark spots on skin is hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation is, literally, excessive pigmentation or darkening of the skin. Hyperpigmentation dark spots are caused or triggered by a variety of factors, including:

· Sun exposure
· Oral medications
· Medical conditions
· Scratches
· Burns
· Rashes
· Acne
· Skincare products
· Surgery
· Chemical peels
· Laser hair removal
· Laser resurfacing


Dark spots can appear brown, black, gray, blue, or even blue-black on black skin or brown skin. Typically, dark spots appear on the face, but they can emerge anywhere on the neck, back and legs.

Once dark spots on skin appear, they can take weeks, even months or years, to fade on their own. For people of color, dark spots caused by acne breakouts typically take an average of four months to fade without treatment.

5 Ways to Prevent Dark Spots on Skin

It may not be possible to avoid dark spots completely, but what you do to prevent them can be the difference between having a chronic problem and a problem you have from time to time.

Here are 5 effective ways to prevent dark spots:

  1. Treat skin problems quickly. If you're prone to acne breakouts, make sure you are using an effective acne treatment, twice a day and consistently before and during the breakout. The longer you wait to treat acne, the more likely troubling dark spots on face will appear. The same principle applies to skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis.
  2. Avoid the sun and use sun protection. Repeated exposure to the sun or exposure to the sun without using appropriate sun protection can exacerbate dark spots – or make them linger longer than normal.
  3. Stop scrubbing them. Contrary to popular belief, dark spots on skin can't be scrubbed away. In fact, the opposite is true: trying to scrub away dark spots can irritate the skin and make them even worse.
  4. Don't pick your skin. Every time you have the urge to pick or pop a pimple just remember: it will leave a dark spot.
  5. Avoid harsh skin treatments. Chemical peels, dermabrasion and laser resurfacing can injure the skin. Avoid these treatments if you're prone to dark spots on face.

Treatment of Dark Spots: What Works, What Doesn't

Most treatments of dark spots focus on evening out your skin tone. But it's important to understand that if you don't treat the underlying problem, dark spots on skin will reappear again and again. So, if you have acne, you need to treat it. If you're using new skincare products that irritate your skin, stop using them. If you tend to spend hours in the sun, use sun protection and wear protective gear such as a hat, visor and sunglasses. If you have a skin problem like eczema, see your dermatologist for treatment before using any products that lighten dark spots.

Once you have the underlying cause or trigger controlled, you can start focusing on a skin treatment that gently helps to fade dark spots and restores a beautiful, even complexion.

Look for skincare products containing the following ingredients, which can be effective for lightening or fading dark spots on skin:

  • Hydroquinone – Available in over-the-counter strengths and prescription-strength. Be sure to consult your dermatologist before using hydroquinone; it has been found to cause allergic reactions.
  • Alpha Hydroxy Acid – Look for cleansers and moisturizers that contain between 5-20% AHAs.
  • Retinoids – Retinoids are a form of Vitamin A and are available in over-the-counter formulas as well as dermatologist prescribed formulations. Retinoids can cause dryness, irritation, redness and peeling. If this happens, use a lower-concentration formula or stop using it altogether.
  • Skin Discoloration System – Rx for Brown Skin's exclusive Dark Spots and Tone Correcting System is designed specifically to reduce the appearance of dark spots on brown skin. This gentle yet effective skin care regimen contains skin-brightening ingredients that won't harm or irritate the skin.

Remember, getting rid of dark spots on face requires a comprehensive approach of prevention, diagnosis of underlying problems and use of a gentle but effective treatment.


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