It appeared a few weeks ago: I rarely noticed my whole body until I saw some dark patches on the back of my hands. I had black spots on my face when I went out in the sun too much but they never appeared on my hands before. I took off my clothes right away and examined my body in front of a mirror. I was not pleased to find more dark spots on my upper back and neck.
I did my research and talked to a professional. It turned out that brown patches on skin are not that uncommon. The hyperpigmentation happens to a lot of people. And although this condition is rarely dangerous, it is very annoying because they don’t usually disappear on their own.
What actually causes dark spots?
There is no single cause to why dark spots occur. In fact, there are multiple types of dark spots as well as multiple reasons why they exist. Dark spots are generally grouped under a large umbrella of hyperpigmentation which includes a wide range of skin problems.
Most of the cases or dark spots are caused by the exposure to sunlight. UV ray has damaging effects to our skin. When the skin is under prolonged exposure to it, it will activate an unusually high production of melanin to protect the skin. The melanin in a local area may coagulate and form dark spots.
Besides, hormonal changes as a result of pregnancy, birth control pills, or menopause may also cause dark spots. Aging and genetics are also other things that cause dark spots. Some disruption in the body system can also be a contributing factor. When it occurs, sometimes we have to find the source of the change and tackle the issue to get rid of the dark spots permanently. But in many cases, just like aging, we can’t prevent or reverse the process so all that we can do is finding the right treatment to make the dark spots go away.
Preventing Dark Spots
The appearance of dark spots can be very annoying. Having them on the back and thigh will influence our fashion options, but dark spots on visible areas such as face or hands are a nightmare. Fortunately, most cases of dark spots can be prevented and treated. Here are some of the things you should do if you want to stay away from the skin condition.
Apply some sunscreen
Sunscreen helps to protect your skin against the danger of the UV light. This will prevent most cases of hyperpigmentation due to the effect of the sun rays. To make sure that you have the best protection, choose a sunblock with a broad spectrum. This means that it offers a protection against both the ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays. Make sure that the Sun Protection Factor is at least 30 or more since it has the ability to block the UV light potential damage by 93%. Before you have activities under the sun, apply the sunblock on the exposed skin. Wait for 15-20 minutes before you go out. Also, it is important to remember that you still need sunblock even in winter or on cloudy days or you will get dark spots on hands and face.
Wear a hat or bring an umbrella
Even though you have applied some sunscreen on your skin, you still need to be certain that your skin is not directly exposed to the scorching sun. The people you see on the beach who wear large hats don’t do it merely for fashion. It is also useful to protect their faces and necks. Wear a brim with at least 4-inch width. Straw hats may be prettier for the look, but it is less effective as a shield. Don’t pick loosely woven materials since the light will still be able to pierce through it. It will be better if it is specially made with sun-protective cloth.
Protect the lips
Most people don’t even remember this part of the body when they’re thinking about protection from the sun. Bad news: age spots can appear on your lips. Therefore, a protection on the area is also needed. Wearing lipstick is not enough if it doesn’t have anti-UV properties. Choose a lipstick or lip balm with long-lasting quality and at least SPF 15. If your lipstick starts wearing off, it’s time to reapply it since nude lips are unprotected.
Stay away from the sun
Although you have taken the necessary measures for your battle against the sun, you still need to limit your skin’s exposure to the sun. It is better to limit your outdoor activities during the peak hours. Around 10 AM-2 PM is the period where the UV radiation is the most harmful. Schedule your outdoor plans like gardening or sunbathing outside those hours.
Take a regular break in the shade
If your job or regular activities requires you to be outside when the sun is fierce, it is important to retreat to a place with a shade. Set up an umbrella or pick a spot under a big tree. Choose some clothes with tightly woven materials and light coloring if possible since the sun will not penetrate it easily.
Consume more vitamin C
Not consuming enough vitamin C may do bad things to your skin. In the medieval era, there was a well-known disease called scurvy that mostly affected sailors who couldn’t ingest enough amount of vitamin C due to months of being confined to a ship. The disease’s symptoms include bleeding gums and dark spots on the skin with hair growing out of them. Getting sufficient vitamin C nutrients every day will make your skin brighter and free from dark spots. Since it is impossible for your body to produce its own vitamin C, you’d better consume fruits like berries, kiwi, lemons or vegetables like kales and peppers.
Consume more vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is also needed for the health of your skin. Vitamin B12 deficiency may lead to lesions and skin discoloration. This can even happen without any other symptoms. Hyperpigmentation on the feet and hands area is probably caused by lacking this vitamin. You can increase your vitamin B12 intake by consuming sea foods like shellfish, mackerels, or crabs. If you are a vegetarian, silken tofu, cheese and eggs are also good sources of the vitamin. There are also over the counter supplements in the form of tablets and pills if your diet doesn’t give you enough vitamin B12.
Keep your liver healthy
The foods that you eat contain nutrition that is absorbed and filtered by your liver. It does an important job of removing toxins from your body. When it fails to do the job, free radicals that exist in your body may lead to the damage of your skin cells. You may experience brown spots accompanied by itchy skins and rashes. To keep your liver functional, exercise regularly, have a healthy diet, and be careful with supplements or other potentially toxic substances.
Protect yourself against computer radiation
How does a computer cause dark spots? Sounds unbelievable, but if you are a computer user who usually puts your computer on your lap, you must watch out for the radiation that object emits to your thigh. Spending hours of browsing on this position for a prolonged period of time can cause your skin to develop erythema which is a form of hyperpigmentation. This appears in the form of net-like patches on your thighs. To avoid it, put your laptop on the table or buy a cooler for your laptop.
Clean your skin, but don’t overdo it
Acne and other kinds of skin inflammation can cause dark spots. Therefore, it is important to keep the cleanliness and oil control of your skin to prevent acnes or clogging up your pores. However, over scrubbing is also not a good thing. Body scrub products can cause irritation when overused and in turn trigger dark spots.
What to Do When Dark Spots Appear
If you are like me, who rarely thinks about prevention until it’s too late, you will regret it when dark spots start appearing on your skin. Fortunately, today there are various available treatments for brown spots on face and body. Depending on the severity and causes of the dark spots, we can choose home remedy or dermatological treatment. Fixing the problem by ourselves is cheaper and more flexible, but it takes more time. On the contrary, undergoing some medical procedure to remove dark spots is generally a process with a quick result, but is also more expensive and in some cases riskier.
The procedure is quick, painless, and surprisingly non-invasive. The treatment is also tailored to different types of dark spots. Different colors and depths will need different types of lasers, and so is the number of visits required until the completion of the treatment. Although the treatment is generally effective, your skin will be extraordinarily sensitive after the treatment for a few days.
This other non-invasive treatment is found very effective in removing dark spots from your skin. The rejuvenation treatment is painless and safe. It exfoliates the skin as well as boosting the collagen production by suctioning exfoliating crystals sprayed on your skin. Besides losing the dark spots, your face will also look younger and fresher after the treatment.
Does it scare you that you have to undergo a “surgery” just to remove sunspots on face? Don’t be afraid, since the treatment is not actually an invasive surgery. A doctor will spray liquid nitrogen onto your dark spot. The dark spots will turn white as a result then after a few days, form a scab. In a few weeks, the scabs will shed off and new skin will form.
A chemical peel is another painless method to get rid of your brown spots; at worst you will feel a tingling sensation on your face. However, the description of the process sounds scary. The treatment is basically applying some chemical on the skin to peel it off. The purpose is to regenerate new cells and grow new skin layers. The new skin layer will be smooth and perfect. There are different chemicals to use depending on the severity of the dark spots, including alpha hydroxy acids, trichloroacetic acid, and phenol. However, there are potential risks associated with the treatment including irritation and even the worsening of skin discoloration.
Depending on the severity of the brown spots, you can get different types of skin lightening creams. Some of them require doctor’s prescription and some others can be bought over the counter. The cream will prevent the production of melanin and stimulate healthy and quick skin regeneration. Some of the common ingredients found in the cream include retinol, hydroquinone, azelaic acid, and koic acid.
Lacking vitamins can also be the reason dark spots persist. You can try to solve the problem by increasing your vitamin E and C intake. Apply the content of a vitamin E capsule every night before your sleep. The antioxidants will make your skin tone even.
There are natural dark spots removers that you can try if you’re not into chemicals. The result may not be visible after several weeks and the treatment has to be done regularly, but the method is mostly safe. The most common home remedies to treat dark spots on back, face, hands, and other areas of the body are:
- Lemon juice; can be applied directly or mixed with other ingredients like honey, yogurt or parsley.
- Aloe vera gel
- Potatoes; can be mixed with honey or lemon juice
- Turmeric paste
Other medical treatments
If over the counter creams and home remedies don’t cure the dark spots on your skin, they probably appear because of other causes such as hormonal imbalances or internal organ problems. It is best to consult a dermatologist and a physician to know for sure what may be the cause of your dark spots. After finding out the causes, you can discuss the best treatment to cure it.
To conclude, there is no doubt that the appearance of dark patches on skin is an annoying phenomenon. However, it is not unpreventable. There are steps to take and things to avoid to keep dark spots away from our healthy skin. And just in case you have already failed to prevent it and right now you are dealing with the problem, you can take one of the available treatments to get rid of them.