Dark spots are usually caused by hyperpigmentation. This is a condition that produces extra melanin, the pigments that color our skin, causing spots darker than the rest of your complexion. Hyperpigmentation can be caused by a number of factors, and tends to affect darker skin tones more, although everyone can experience them. \
Some causes of hyperpigmentation can be from picking at acne, leaving dark scars on the skin. This is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation can also be caused by overexposure to the sun, creating age spots or sun spots. And sometimes hyperpigmentation can be caused by medications. Melasma is a type of hyperpigmentation that can be caused from hormonal fluctuations.
Now if you have dark spots, no matter how you got them, you can still treat them yourself. You can get topical solutions, products that are applied to the skin, to lighten skin and smooth out your complexion.
Some ingredients prove more useful than others. Hydroquinone is the only FDA-approved skin lightening agent available. You can find it in low percentages in products at your drugstore, like Resist Triple-Action Dark Spot Eraser, and a lower percentage is usually all you’ll need. If not you can visit a dermatologist for a consultation and get a prescription for a concentration that works for you.
Or you can use products that have exfoliating acids in them. Exfoliation is important because it not only removes the older skin cells, but also promotes the growth of newer, lighter cells. Salicylic acid is one ingredient you can look for in dark spot serums like Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Corrector. As well, look for products with glycolic acid, like Murad’s Rapid Age Spot & Pigment Lightening Serum.
You should also keep an eye out for products that also combine one of the above active ingredients with vitamin C. Both Murad’s and Kiehl’s serums use vitamin C to brighten skin.
If over-the-counter treatments aren’t working out for you, then you might want to try something a little bit more powerful. Microdermabrasion is the process of shooting a stream of an abrasive substance, like aluminum oxide crystals, at your skin to remove dead skin. It should be performed by a trained professional as it is a delicate process.
It’s a painless procedure, but shouldn’t be repeated more than once every one to two weeks. Doing anymore than this can cause irritation and even cause your skin to get darker where applied rather than lighter.
How to Prevent It In the Future
The best way to deal with hyperpigmentation is to stop it from happening in the first place. There are a few steps that you can take to save yourself some dark spots.
As mentioned earlier, dark spots can be caused by trauma to the skin, like picking acne. Treating acne early and kicking the habit of trying to pop that zit can prevent future dark spots to deal with.
Age spots, freckles, and sunspots are caused by overexposure to UV rays. To keep these spots from developing in the first place, all you need to do is regularly apply sunscreen. Using a moisturizer with a minimum of 30 SPF is an easy way to keep those spots from coming up. During the summer months, remember to wear a hat to protect yourself from the worst of the sun’s rays.
Finally, dark spots can be caused by changes in your hormones. Some hormonal birth control, and even pregnancy itself, can cause dark spots to appear. You can talk to your doctor about switching to a birth control that will help with your complexion rather than work against it.