Every problem has a root cause, and it’s essential to get to the bottom of the condition to treat it. So, let’s begin by understanding why your skin develops dark spots.
You may have heard about a natural pigment called melanin that’s present in the skin.
This particular pigment is responsible for the colour of the skin, eyes, and even your hair. It’s incredible how one pigment is responsible for so much diversity in the physical appearance of people across the globe! Every single person has the same number of cells that produce melanin known as melanocytes.
It’s the difference in how these cells behave that result in different coloured skin among people. But providing the colour of our skin, eyes, and even hair isn’t the only purpose of melanin.
It also protects the skin from the harmful effects of the sun. Whenever your skin is exposed to the sun, the melanocytes (cells that produce melanin) increase their production of melanin.
And sometimes, they go into overdrive, producing more melanin than usual, resulting in dark spots.
dark spots Another problem that’s closely linked with dark spots is skin pigmentation. So, let’s understand what skin pigmentation is and how it is related to dark spots.
Later in this article, we’ll explore the causes of dark spots on the face and body and list some natural remedies to get rid of dark spots. In the end, we will be looking at some preventive measures to reduce the appearance of such dark spots. Let’s get started.
Often, we hear people using terms such as skin pigmentation or hyperpigmentation. These terms are commonly used interchangeably with dark spots. But, are they the same thing or is there a difference between the two?
Skin pigmentation or hyperpigmentation is a broader term used to describe dark spots or patches or even general darkening of the skin. The melanin pigment responsible for giving us our skin colour is usually evenly distributed in the skin.
We’ve talked about how dark spots occur when certain parts of the skin produce more melanin than the rest. This can happen due to various factors such as exposure to the sun's harmful UV rays or even due to hormones.
Dark spots are just one form of skin pigmentation and we’ll be talking about them at length in this article. melanin and dark spots However, there are various other types of skin pigmentation as well - freckles, melasma, dark circles, etc. to name a few.
Each of them occurs due to different reasons. For example, freckles are a common response to sunlight and start appearing at a very young age. Age spots, on the other hand, are darker spots and start developing as we grow older.
Melasma is pigmentation on the skin that appears as dark brown patches, mostly on the cheeks. Sometimes, injuries and inflammation can leave behind dark spots too.
These are called post-inflammatory pigmentation. Dark circles around the eyes are also a common type of skin pigmentation that makes us look dull and tired. Whatever the type of pigmentation, it can be managed by developing good sun screening habits.
As described earlier, dark spots are caused when certain parts of the skin produce more melanin than the other areas. Apart from sun exposure, hormonal changes, inflammation, conditions like diabetes also influence the production of melanin.
Some of the most common reasons behind dark spots are discussed below:
Hormonal changes can be a leading cause of skin pigmentation, especially for women. Melasma is a type of skin pigmentation that appears in the form of dark patches, usually on the cheeks or forehead. This condition is prevalent after pregnancy.
Exposure to the harmful UV rays of the sun can cause dark spots to appear on the skin. Freckles, sunspots, solar lentigines, or liver spots are the most common type of pigmentation that can be developed due to exposure to the sun. These can be prevented by healthy sun screening habits developed at a very young age.
Side effects of medication:
Certain medications can cause specific side effects, such as skin pigmentation and dark spots. NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs produce the most common reactions.
Dark spots may also occur after skin inflammation or injuries to the skin. These can be caused by acne or even eczema.
Irritation due to certain products:
Sometimes, the use of certain products like perfumes or certain hair products can cause skin irritation, causing dark spots to appear on the skin.
Diabetes can also cause certain areas of the skin to produce more melanin, leading to dark patches. As you can see, there are varying reasons for developing dark spots, which brings us to two crucial questions.
How to remove dark spots from our skin? And more importantly, can we prevent dark spots from appearing in the first place? Before we discuss that, it’s important to distinguish between dark spots and acne scars as people tend to confuse between the two of them.
It is essential to distinguish between acne scars and dark spots because the treatment for the two is very different. Dark spots are usually superficial and are not as damaging as acne scars.
Sometimes, what we consider to be dark spots and dismiss as a cosmetic problem of the skin can turn out to be deep acne scars.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is light or dark brown spots left behind on the skin by mild or moderate acne.
They eventually fade from the skin with time. Acne scars are usually deeper and a result of damage to layers beneath the surface of the skin. These are usually caused by moderate to severe acne.
We are all guilty of popping zits, and it turns out that this is the most common reason for acne scars. Some of the types of acne scars are:
Ice Pick Scars:
These scars are deep, but need not be wide. They can be recognized by their jagged edges and resemble large scooped-out pores.
These are broad and rectangular depressions in the skin with defined edges.
These are broad depressions with sloping edges, much like their name suggests.
Scars require the tissues to be overgrown, and while they are difficult to remove entirely, they may fade over time. But they remain visible. Thankfully, dark spots are easier to get rid of, but it can take anywhere between two months to 3 years for them to vanish completely.
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