The 3 Major Causes Of Hyper Pigmentation And Brown Spots
1. Sun-induced hyperpigmentation
One of the primary functions of melanin production in your skin is to protect you from UV rays from the sun. A “tan” is the prime example of your body’s melanin response to the sun.
When the skin is assaulted by repeated exposure to the sun, you experience sun damage in a variety of ways and one of those is brown spots and hyper-pigmentation resulting from an over-production of melanin. Once the cycle of pigment over-production has started, it is difficult to stop it and usually medical intervention is required.
2. Hormonal hyperpigmentation caused by hormone changes
The second most frequent cause of hyper-pigmentation is hormone changes. This may be a result of birth control pills, pregnancy or the various stages of menopause. Hormone shifts trigger the melanin cells to go into over-drive. This can happen even if you are not a sun worshipper. Sun exposure will always make it worse.
3. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation caused by injury
The third most common cause of pigmentation is a direct result of some type of injury to the skin. Typical pigmentation-causing injuries include:
- Improperly performed laser treatments
What Causes Brown Spots And How To Get Rid Of Them
Dark spots, age spots, sunspots, liver spots, freckles, hyperpigmentation patchesthe names for skin spots are seemingly endless, and unfortunately, the list of causes behind these pesky patches is just as long and varied. What causes one persons brown spots may have nothing to do with why another person has them. However, there are some more common causes to keep an eye on for prevention and reduction.
What Causes Brown Spots On Skin
These are the most common causes that can lead to the appearance of brown spots on the skin:
- Prolonged and constant exposure to ultraviolet
- Repeated artificial tanning
- The following are considered as risk factors:
- Light skin that rather burns than tans
- Frequent sunburns
These are the most common treatments recommended for brown spots on the skin:
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Moles And Birthmarks On The Body
The pinhead to pea-sized moles or liver spots are brownish accumulations of pigment rich cells. These can be so-called melanocytes, which normally release their pigment, melanin, to the skin and thus ensure that the skin turns brown. The medical term for moles is short nevus. These are often congenital. The risk of developing skin cancer from these small patches is slightly increased. Therefore, regular check-ups by the dermatologist are absolutely recommended. Read about what to look out for in moles.
What Are Brown Spots And Freckles
Brown spots and freckles on sun-exposed skin are ephelides and lentigines . The difference between an ephelis and a lentigo is that an ephelis fades during the winter months while a lentigo persists in the absence of ultraviolet stimulation. Ephelides and lentigines can occur in the same individuals and the risk factors for both are generally the same.
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What Are The Clinical Features Of Ephelides
Ephelides arise on an individual’s mid face and sometimes more widely from early childhood onwards. As the person ages, this type of freckle generally become less noticeable. They are more prominent in summer but fade considerably or disappear in winter. An ephelis is usually less than 3 mm in diameter.
Apart from the need for sun protection, no particular treatment is necessary.
What Should I Know About Spots
Brown spots are also called age spots, liver spots, solar lentigines, or sun spots. These spots are flat, oval areas of increased pigmentation that vary in size. Usually gray, tan, brown or black, spots appear on areas on your skin where youve had the most sun exposure over the years, such as your face, the backs of hands, tops of feet, forearms, shoulders and upper back, regardless of your sex or race. Although, brown spots are more common if you have fair skin, a history of frequent sun exposure, frequent tanning bed use, and are older than 40, may cause brown spots to show on your face.
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What Skin Lightening Treatments Should I Avoid
Some skin lightening products can come with serious side effects. If a skin lightening cream contains mercury, it could damage your kidneys or nerves.
Always ask your dermatologist for recommendations before using a new skin care product. When buying skin care products, look for ingredients that could indicate mercury, including:
- Ingredients that contain the words mercury or mercuric.
What Causes Hyperpigmentation
People who have medium to dark skin tones get dark spots and patches because something triggers their skin to make extra melanin, the substance that gives skin its color. Many everyday things can trigger extra melanin in people who have darker skin tones.
Dark spots and patches often appear when:
A pimple or patch of psoriasis clears.
A wound caused by an insect bite, cut, burn, or other injury heals.
You take certain medications.
A skin or hair care product irritates your skin.
Hormonal changes occur, such as during pregnancy.
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How To Prevent Age Spots
Sometimes the best place to start is before you develop age spots. Use a broad spectrum sunscreen to prevent them from occurring in the first place, or to prevent them from reoccurring. Mineral-based sun blocks with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the best for both our skin and for the environment. But dont forget about sun protective clothing, hats and sunglasses too! If you drive a lot, you might even want to consider getting an ultraviolet protective coating on the drivers side window of your car.
What Causes Liver Spots On Your Skin
Liver spots appear in areas where melanin has gathered or clumped. Melanin is the substance that gives your skin pigment.
When ultraviolet light hits your skin, it speeds up melanin production. Over time, this process may lead to sun spots. You may also develop liver spots after medical treatments such as radiation therapy.
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How Do Brown Skin Spots Develop
As shown above, brown patches on the skin can take many different forms: from small and sharply defined to large and frayed. They appear individually or in groups, some are a little raised, but most are completely smooth. These brown discolorations can occur basically anywhere on the body. They can be congenital or develop only in the course of life
Responsible for such brown discolorations on the skin is usually a local overproduction of the pigment melanin , which gives our skin, hair and eyes the actual color. Other causes can be:
- smallest bleedings in the legs due to vein weakness
- Metabolic disorders e.g. due to liver disease
- Systemic diseases or hereditary diseases
- Contact with chemical substances such as silver salts or phenols
In addition, there are various factors that can promote an overproduction of melanin: The most important are sunlight, genetic predisposition, metabolism, hormonal influences, ageing processes and skin injuries. Certain drugs may also play a role.
Active cancer prevention: Check brown spots: When should I see a doctor?
The ABCDE rule can serve as a first guide to identify suspicious spots on the skin itself:
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Actinic Keratosis
An actinic keratosis develops when skin has been badly damaged by ultraviolet light from the sun or indoor tanning.
Signs of actinic keratosis
The brown spots on this mans face may look like age spots, but theyre actually actinic keratoses.
Left untreated, some actinic keratoses turn into a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. Thats why its important to know if you have any of these precancerous growths on your skin.
The following pictures show some diverse ways that it can appear.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Age Spots
The main symptoms that characterize age spots include:
- Color. Age spots range from light brown to black in color. They may darken after time in the sun.
- Texture. The spots have the same texture as the rest of your skin. They typically appear on sun-exposed areas. Theyre flat to the touch and dont cause any pain.
- Size. Age spots can vary from the size of a very small freckle to an inch in diameter.
- Grouping. They may appear on their own or in a group, which can make them more noticeable.
- Shape. Age spots are typically round or oval, with very defined edges.
A dermatologist or healthcare professional will usually diagnose age spots with a visual inspection, a biopsy, or both.
Heat Rash Vs Sun Rash
Having red spots on your skin that itch or burn after you’ve been outside can be caused by the sun or by the heat. While heat rash is caused by high temperatures and sweat, a sun rash is more like getting a sunburn.
Heat rash usually gets better on its own in a few days. However, if the skin is injured, it can lead to a secondary infection. In severe cases, oral or topical antibiotics are needed to relieve pain and clear up the infection.
Call your healthcare provider if you notice any signs of infection, including a whitish coloring over the heat rash, flaking skin, or a pus-like discharge.
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Home Remedies To Avoid
People may wish to keep in mind that many of the home remedies that webpages recommend may have side effects or no evidence of effectiveness. Examples include lemon and apple cider vinegar. No studies back the claims that these treatments work.
In some cases, unproven treatments may aggravate the skin. For example, the American Society for Dermatological Surgery do not recommend lemon juice or abrasive scrubs, as these methods could make dark spots worse.
Some skin lightening products can do more harm than good. Many contain ingredients that can harm the skin or overall health, such as mercury or steroids. Applying these can cause pimples, rashes, and fragile skin over time.
A doctor or dermatologist can often work out the cause of dark spots on the skin by examining them and taking a medical history.
During a physical exam, the healthcare professional might perform a Woods lamp skin exam, where they view the spots through a special device that emits black light.
In some instances, specific characteristics of a spot might require more tests to make sure skin cancer is not causing the spot.
Anyone can develop dark spots on the skin. Certain risk factors appear to increase a persons chances including:
Small Brown Spots On The Lower Shins
A white man, aged 55 years, presented with several discrete, well-demarcated, atrophic, hyperpigmented, nonblanching brown macules on the pretibial aspect of both lower legs. The spots appeared several years ago with no precedent trauma and are asymptomatic.
Neither OTC topical 1% hydroquinone nor 1% hydrocortisone cream had improved the color or number of lesions. The man had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at age 35 years. Current medications included metformin , exenatide , and enalapril .
HOW TO TAKE THE POST-TEST:This Clinical Advisor CME activity consists of 3 articles. To obtain credit, you must also read Elevated iron levels and erosions on the hands and Ulcerations in the oral cavity.
Submit your diagnosis to see full explanation.
Diabetic dermopathy , a significant cutaneous marker of diabetes mellitus , can be diagnosed by close visual inspection and confirmed by biopsy if necessary. DM affects more than 25 million Americans in 2010, almost 2 million new cases were diagnosed.
As the leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, and nontraumatic lower-limb amputation, the direct and indirect costs of caring for patients with DM amounted to an estimated $174 billion dollars in 2007, highlighting the need for appropriate screening, early detection, and treatment of complications from this rapidly growing disease.1
Traumatic scars and healed neurotic excoriations may resemble DD morphologically, but the history will help differentiate these conditions as well.
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Why Do I Have Brown Spots On My Skin
If you have brown spots on your skin you likely are dealing with a form of hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation goes by many names depending on the underlying causes. These names may include brown spots, melasma, age spots, liver spots, sun spots, sun freckles, and pregnancy mask.
What causes brown spots on my skin?
Hyperpigmentation is a result of pigment-producing cells going into overdrive as a result of either external factors, like sun exposure, or internal factors such as hormonal shifts caused by pregnancy, birth control pills or menopause. Hyperpigmentation can also occur as a result of inflammation. This could be something as minor as a bug bite or a cut, but also severe acne. Any form of hyperpigmentation will be worsened by sun exposure.
What is the best way to prevent brown spots on my skin?
Since hormonal changes likely are not an optional reason behind hyperpigmentation, you need to focus on controlling the main external cause sun exposure. Prevent sun-induced hyperpigmentation through regular sunscreen application, hats, sun-protective clothing and seeking shade when possible.
Is there a way to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation?
Your local board-certified dermatologist can determine the best course of treatment for your specific hyperpigmentation concerns, but generally speaking, these are the most successful treatments:
What Causes Brown Spots On The Skin
They go by names like brown spots, age spots, liver spots, sunspots, and solar lentigines. But whatever you call them, brown spots are a common sign of aging and can have a negative effect on your self-confidence. While most brown spots are harmless, they can occasionally be cancerous. This is why it is important to seek qualified dermatology care when determining whether a spot on your skin is harmless or not.
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Diagnosing The Underlying Cause Of Scaling Skin
When you initially recognize scaling skin, you may simply apply lotion and not give it much thought. After all, its very common for skin to sometimes scale during periods of cold, dry weather or after prolonged sun exposure. However, if your scaling skin doesnt improve, spreads, or worsens, you may want to see your healthcare provider.
Your healthcare provider will ask about your medical history and your symptoms. If you can pinpoint when the symptoms first appeared, it may help your healthcare provider determine a cause. Whether or not your skin itches or if anything provides relief could also help in diagnosing the problem.
The diagnosis is made based on the appearance of your skin, your history of exposure to any irritating or allergenic substances, and any accompanying symptoms.
How The Skin Color Occurs
Before looking at the causes of brown spots on the Skin, we will briefly review how normal skin coloration occurs.
In our Skin, there are a group of cells called melanocytes. These cells are responsible for producing a pigment called melanin, which allows the coloring of different skins. Some will have more melanin , others will have less , and others will not .
The primary stimulus for melanin production is sun exposure. When you spend a lot of time in the sun, you get burned, your Skin darkens, the level of melanin increases, and the normal pigmentation of your skin changes. This also explains why those most exposed areas have a different coloration than the rest of the body that you keep covered. However, this standard mechanism can be disturbed and lead to specific areas becoming excessively dark and brown. We will see under what circumstances this can happen.
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Sun Exposure + Citrus
The combination of citrus fruit juice with sun exposure guarantees extraordinary and multiform brown and dark spots on the Skin that will surprise many. You will see the trace of your fingers drawn on your skin in any area you have touched and then exposed to the sun.
It is a phenomenon called phytophotodermatitis and can cause severe burns due to the combination of both elements if sun exposure is prolonged.
When Should You Contact Your Doctor
If you develop symptoms of tinea versicolor, you may choose to treat the condition yourself. Over-the-counter antifungal medications can eliminate discolored patches of skin. However, you should contact your doctor if these treatments arent effective. You may need a prescription medication to control your symptoms.
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Melanin: The Good And Bad Of Your Natural Pigment
Skin gets its color, whether light or dark, from melanin. Some people are born with more melanin cells than others and consequently, have a higher incidence of problematic pigmentation. The more melanin, the more color and the more “color-potential” you have in your skin.
Sun exposure, heat, injury or hormonal changes can all trigger increased melanin production. It is the abnormal increase that causes irregular color on the skin. Melanin rises to the surface of the skin in response to these triggers but is not seen right away as the cells are produced deeper in the skin and then rise slowly to the surface. This is why you may not see the brown spots until days, weeks, or even months after the cause.
Melanin is a skin protector and is the body’s attempt to stop cell damage from sun or heat. The “tan” that so many Southern California sun worshippers seek is actually the body’s reaction to cell damage. With repeated insult, skin that evenly tanned will begin to take on a mottled appearance and then begin showing concentrated dark spots.
Other Causes Of Skin Discoloration
Other conditions and medical treatments that can cause skin discoloration include:
- Bleeding into the skin.This happens when blood vessels burst due to injury, bruising, or an allergic reaction.
- Radiation therapy.Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that can cause the skin to blister, itch, and peel.
- Spider veins. Damaged veins that can appear as clusters of red, blue, or purple lines underneath your skin, particularly in your legs.
- Hormonal changes. Hormonal changes may cause the development of melasma hyperpigmentation.
- Burns. Skin discoloration can occur from burns such as those associated with injuries and sunburns.
- Medication side effects.Drug-induced hyperpigmentation may occur in some people taking antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , and other drugs.
You should schedule an appointment with a doctor if you:
- have any lasting changes in your skin color
- notice a new mole or growth on your skin
- have an existing mole or growth that changed in size or appearance
- have any other concerning symptoms, such as pain, inflammation, or discharge
At your appointment, your doctor will first take a look at areas of skin discoloration and ask you about any changes youve noticed. They will also ask about other symptoms you may be experiencing.
- blood tests to check for conditions that may cause changes in skin color
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