Dark Spots on the Skin: Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Everything You Need To Know About Dark Spot Treatment

One skin condition that many Hispanic and Latino individuals develop is dark spots. Though they’re primarily linked to aging, it's possible for anyone to develop them at any time. Dark spots can also manifest due to sun exposure. For many individuals, dark spots can cause a lot of distress due to how noticeable they are.

Luckily, you don't have to suffer from dark spots for long. Here's what you need to know about dark spot treatment.

Why Do Dark Spots Appear?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, dark spots are caused by an ​increase in the formation of melanin.​ It's melanin that causes darker skin in general. In the case of dark spots, melanin is overproduced in certain areas, and there are a few reasons why.

One has to do with acne and psoriasis. When you have a skin problem like acne or psoriasis, your skin becomes inflamed. Acne in particular is caused by bacteria and the oil glands in your pores. When those pores are cleared, the damaged skin has to repair itself.

One of the steps in the repair process is the production of melanin to color the damaged skin like the rest of the skin cells around it. Yet something may go wrong in the repair process. As a result, more melanin is produced than is necessary. You're left with a dark spot.

The same happens with psoriasis. When your skin heals from an episode, it produces more melanin than is needed.

Any kind of situation that results in your skin cells needing to repair themselves may result in the formation of dark spots:

  • Insect bites
  • Sunburns
  • Skin cancer
  • Side effect of medications

Dark spots may also form during pregnancy. When you become pregnant, your body goes into overdrive with hormone production. One of the side effects of all those hormones in your body is the possible overproduction of melanin. You may discover that your dark spots disappear after you've given birth.

Preventive Measures You Can Take To Stop Dark Spots



There are a few steps you can take to stop the formation of dark spots in the first place. The first is to use sunscreen. Many of those with Hispanic or Latino origins often forego wearing sunscreen because they believe that their darker skin protects them.

This isn't the case.

One study​ found that the rate at which Hispanics are developing melanoma is steadily increasing. In particular, researchers found that those younger than 55 were more at risk of developing melanoma.

Sunscreen is essential. Besides helping you avoid developing skin cancer, it can also work as a preventative measure for dark spots on the face, neck or any other place on the body.

This is because sunscreen protects your skin from sun damage, and without damage to the skin, your body will not be as likely to produce melanin.

Another way to prevent dark spots is by changing your medication. If you believe that the medication you're taking is what's causing your dark spots, then speak with your doctor. You shouldn't stop taking your medication unless it threatens your life. Your doctor may be able to put you on a different medication that doesn't come with that side effect.

A final way to prevent dark spot formation is to control your acne. Because the cause of acne differs by individual, your prevention technique may differ from someone else's. For example, your diet may influence how many breakouts you have.

By eating a fresh diet of fruits and vegetables, you may notice a reduction in your acne. For others, it may mean using certain creams to help stop oil buildup in the skin.

Whatever your solution may be, preventing acne can help stop dark spots from forming.

How To Get Rid of Dark Spots on the Skin

If you already have dark spots, then you may be looking for an effective way to remove dark spots. The answer is finding a cream that contains two major ingredients.

There have been​ ​several studies​ that have shown that the use of chemicals or creams that contain glycolic acid can be a great dark-spot treatment. Glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid that is effective in permeating the skin and killing bacteria.

Typically, it has a few different concentrations. The higher the concentration, the deeper the acid penetrates. Most dermatologists begin with a low concentration to see how the skin reacts.

One of the amazing things about glycolic acid as a hyperpigmentation treatment is that it's been proven safe. Glycolic acid–based chemical peels have been used for years to treat patients for acne scars, hyperpigmentation, age spots and other skin conditions.

Those who use peels or creams with glycolic acid typically don't report any side effects. At most, they may feel some unpleasant burning or some pain when the peel is removed. Otherwise, this acid has been proven time and again to be effective and safe.

Another important ingredient that can act as a powerful dark-spot treatment is tretinoin.​ ​One study​ found that using topical tretinoin helped 83% of the participants with their age spots. Respondents reported reduced liver spots, or dark spots, on their face and other areas.

The reason tretinoin is such a​ ​powerful hyperpigmentation treatment​ is because it acts as an inhibitor. Genetically speaking, when your cells start to repair themselves, your genetic code instructs your cells to make a certain thing.

There are tons of different proteins, cells and genes that are involved in a single repair process. One of the factors that influences whether a cell, protein or whatever else the body needs is made is an inhibitor. The body uses inhibitors to stop the production of certain entities when the body already has too many of them.

Inhibitors can help to get rid of dark spots on the face due to their blocking nature. After tretinoin binds to a particular part of the melanin production pathway, the body is no longer able to produce melanin.As a result, no dark spots can appear.

How To Get Rid of Dark Spots on the Face Effectively

Now that you know what two ingredients you need to look for in your topical solution, it's just as important to know how to use the ingredients. Depending on what kind of topical cream you receive, you'll likely need to apply the cream to the areas affected by dark spots on a daily basis.

In some cases, it may even be wise to use additional solutions like moisturizers and face washes. As long as these contain tretinoin and glycolic acid as well, you're able to reinforce the cream you applied earlier.

It's also important that you apply sunscreen when you go outside after starting your dark-spot treatment with tretinoin and glycolic acid. Your skin may be slightly more sensitive to sunlight. To ensure your skin doesn't end up becoming damaged and thus produce more dark spots, using moisturizers or creams that contain some form of SPF is suggested.

Your doctor can give you an exact schedule that you should adhere to in order to remove your dark spots, and if you follow his or her instructions, you’ll likely see a decrease in dark spots. As a result, your skin will look healthier and clearer.

Other Possible Treatments

There are other treatments for dark spots; however, they're typically more costly. One is laser treatment. By using light energy, the melanin can be removed from the skin. This is accomplished by removing the actual pigment particles in the problem area.

Yet laser treatments are often extremely costly. Some individuals may find that the procedure is too unpleasant as well. Finally, laser treatment may actually cause more dark spots to appear around the area that was treated, because the laser treatment actually injures the skin. As a result, the body has to repair itself. Overproduction of melanin may occur.

Seek Professional Advice

A variety of available methods can help you treat unwanted dark spots effectively. Always be aware of contraindications and side effects of different procedures and topicals. Visit your dermatologist for advice on what will work best for you if you are concerned about allergic reactions, intolerances or possible damage from any of the treatments.