Dark Spots & Sun Spots: Treatments, Causes, Prevention

If you have been noticing dark spots appear on your skin, you might be wondering if there is a way to get rid of them.

Although they are natural and very common, for several reasons, many people choose to treat them so that they are less noticeable.

If you have been looking into treatments for your dark spots, in this article, we are going to be discussing:

  • Causes for Dark Spots
  • Treatment for Dark Spots
  • How to Prevent Dark Spots

Causes for Dark Spots

Dark spots are quite common and can pop up for several reasons. Some people, due to their skin type may be more susceptible to getting dark spots than others.

A form of hyperpigmentation, dark spots arise from an overproduction of melanin in the skin. Melanin is what gives our hair, skin, and eyes color and some people naturally have more melanin.

So, who is more likely to get dark spots? Sun exposure, certain medications, pregnancy, certain skin conditions, diabetes, and liver disease all make someone more likely to develop dark spots, as succinctly outlined by this article.

Let’s further explore some of these causes.

First, excessive sun exposure can lead to sunspots, which we often refer to as freckles. That is why some people develop freckles after spending a long day in the sun or on a tanning bed.

The development of sunspots is mainly genetic, as some people are genetically predisposed to sun sensitivity.

Second, dark spots can be a result of hormonal changes, which is why we listed pregnancy as a risk factor. This is because hormonal changes can lead to melasma, causing discoloration in the skin.

Third, certain medications can cause dark spots to arise, most commonly non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), tetracyclines, and psychotropic drugs.

Fourth, certain skin conditions can leave the skin damaged, causing hyperpigmentation. For example, inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne may leave the skin permanently scarred.

Similarly, if you have a wound on your skin, as it heals it can cause hyperpigmentation.

Finally, diabetes can also cause skin discoloration. However, we won’t go into the details of that in this article.

Treatment for Dark Spots

Most dark spots are benign and therefore do not need to be treated. However, if you want to even out your skin tone there are many treatments for dark spots.

There are some topical creams you can get from your dermatologist. These lightening creams essentially bleach the skin to even out the skin tone.

The active ingredient is hydroquinone, which prevents the skin from producing melanin.

However, the effects of these creams are gradual, and if you want faster, more effective results, cosmetic treatments may be a better option.

One option is laser treatment, most commonly IPL or intense pulsed light treatment.

IPL, or Intense Pulsed Light treatment, targets certain colors in your skin, whether that skin is darker from acne scarring or sun exposure. It works by heating the skin, triggering the body to get rid of unwanted cells, such as those making your skin uneven.

Another treatment option is microdermabrasion, which works to remove a layer of the skin. Think of it as a type of exfoliation that helps jumpstart collagen production and in turn, reduce hyperpigmentation.

Additionally, dark spots can be treated with chemical peels, which provide another form of deep exfoliation, helping the spots to fade.

Finally, dark spots can be corrected with microneedling, which involves making small punctures in the skin to trigger the skin’s natural healing response. This helps jumpstart collagen production in the skin, helping to even out the skin tone and reduce the appearance of scars, spots, and hyperpigmentation.

Microneedling is a great option because it can be used on darker skin tones, which is not the case with all laser treatments.

Treating dark spots with microneedling is even more effective when done in conjunction with PRP (platelet-rich plasma) treatment, which involves drawing blood from the skin, separating the blood from the plasma, and injecting it back into the skin. Microneedling with PRP amplifies and speeds up treatment results.

How to Prevent Dark Spots

Now that you understand the causes of dark spots and how to treat them, let’s discuss how to prevent them in the first place.

While preventing dark spots completely may not be possible, here are a few things to keep in mind.

If you want to prevent dark spots from forming, it is essential to wear sunscreen daily, with at least SPF 30. Yes, it is important to wear sunscreen even if you are not spending all day in the sun and even if it is not bright out.

To further protect your skin, wear a hat if you plan to spend a long time in the sun.

Additionally, to prevent hyperpigmentation from acne and other skin conditions, try and treat breakouts and inflammation as soon as possible. Also, avoid picking at your skin or using harsh irritants.