Do you suffer from annoying dark patches or age spots? The good news is there are many steps you can take to both treat and prevent these pesky areas.
What exactly are these dark spots, or areas of hyperpigmentation?
These are benign areas of skin that appear darker than your natural skin tone due to overproduction of melanin (pigment naturally occurring in skin, hair & eyes) from your pigment-producing cells (melanocytes).
These patches most commonly occur on sun-exposed areas such as the forehead, cheeks, upper lip, and chin. They can sometimes pop up on other sun-exposed areas of the body.
What causes hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation tends to be more common in women than men, and in people that are genetically predisposed. It can happen in response to injury, for example with dermatitis, insect bites or skin infections. Melanocytes can also be influenced by hormonal changes, for example in pregnant women, or in women taking contraception or hormone replacement therapies.
A major causative factor is sun exposure. Ultraviolet radiation induces a number of reactions within the skin cells which can lead to structural DNA changes. If left unchecked these changes can later develop into skin cancer. Melanin is produced in response to ultraviolet radiation to protect the DNA of your skin cells. Most age or sun spots are harmless, but it is good practice to see a doctor if you’re worried about any spots in particular.
5 things you can do to combat spots and patches
Sun screen and wide-brimmed hats! Wear at least SPF 30 to protect your skin every day. Harmful rays can penetrate even through clouds. This is good practice when it comes to all things to do with protecting your skin - including spots and patches, fine lines and wrinkles, and dryness. UV protection helps to not only prevent dark spots, but also stops existing ones from worsening.
Patience and no spot-picking. It’s very easy to obsess over new blemishes, and scratch or pick at them. However this can lead to inflammation, and stimulate melanocytes to produce melanin to protect your skin.
Creams with natural ingredients. There are certain naturally occurring products that have anecdotally been shown to aid with lightening hyperpigmented areas including aloe vera, green tea extracts, tea tree oil, kojic acid, and glabridin - an extract from liquorice.
Over the counter lightening serums. There are many products commercially available. Check the packaging carefully and find creams the contain compounds such as retinoid acid (or tretinoin), hydroquinone, hyaluronic acid, arbutin and vitamins C & E. Be aware that spots can take many months to improve, especially with ingredients running at lower concentrations in over the counter products.
More invasive treatments such as prescription-grade lightening serums, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, laser or light-based procedures. Be cautious when proceeding with these treatments as occasionally they can lead to scarring or trauma and make matters worse. Here at The Cosmetic Specialists you will always be seen by a medical doctor who will analyse your skin and give you an idea of how might be best to proceed. The Million Dollar Facial is an excellent less-invasive option - among other benefits it reduces pigmentation through deep exfoliation of dead skin cells and stimulation of natural collagen and cell turnover.