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Dark spots or age spots or hyperpigmentation occurs when the skin produces more melanin than normal in some areas of skin. It is usually not a cause of concern and does not require treatment until the person feels offended. They also called d liver spots, senile lentigo, solar lentigines, or sun spots depending on the cause.
They are flat brown, gray, or black. Their texture is similar to the rest of the skin and is not painful. They vary in size and develop on any part of the body such as the back of the hands, face, back, or shoulders. They appear most often on the sun-exposed area.
In people with dark colors, spots are darker but fade away in a few days. However, deeper coloration may take a few years to fade.
Dark spots develop due to various reasons. However, in some cases the underlying reason is unclear. The causes include:
UV light exposure: UV light exposure from the sun or an artificial source, cause hyperpigmentation in middle-aged people with light hair or skin who are at risk of severe and many sunburns.
Skin Conditions: Various skin conditions and diseases contributed to the dark spots and areas.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation: Skin discoloration/dark spots appear following trauma, burns, acne, or certain skincare products
Melasma: Type of dark spots after hormonal fluctuations especially during pregnancy.
Linea nigra: A dark, vertical line through the middle of the abdomen appear during pregnancy.
Chloasma: Hormonal changes that cause dark areas.
Riehl's melanosis: Certain type of contact dermatitis caused by sun exposure
Poikiloderma of Civatte: It benign condition due to which parts of the neck turn reddish-brown.
Erythromelanosis follicularis: Condition with similar characteristics like poikiloderma of Civatte. It shows reddish-brown pigmentation on the face and neck
Medications: Certain photosensitive medications can cause dark spots by making the skin hypersensitive to sun exposure. Such medications include:
Other factors that cause hyperpigmentation of the skin
Hemochromatosis (excessive iron)
The treatment for black spot reduction is mainly for cosmetic purposes. Treatment can completely remove dark spots.
Topical prescription medicines:
It includes hydroquinone, retinoids alpha hydroxy acid, glycolic acid, deoxyarbutin, and kojic acid containing bleaches. However, they just hide the appearance of spots. Sometimes, they are associated with side effects such as redness, swelling, and irritation due to the skin abrasives present in the bleach. They also make the skin sensitive to UV exposure in sunlight, hence it is recommended to apply SPF containing sunscreen products.
Laser treatment: The concentrated light used to burn the dark spots. It is associated with the risk of bruising, swelling, redness, tightness, scarring, infection, and skin texture changes.
Chemical peels: The chemicals such as salicylic acid and glycolic acid mask used to remove the upper layer of skin to reveal healthier and toned skin. It may also cause skin irritation.
Microdermabrasion: They physically erode the skin surface. There are two types of microdermabrasion: crystal and diamond-tipped
Cryosurgery: Freezing with a liquid nitrogen solution the dark skin peels away and cause fading.
With the help of certain preventive measures, dark spots can be avoided to some extent. The measures include:
Use SPF containing sunscreens: Practicing wearing and reapplying of sunscreen products every two hours or sooner if you've been swimming or sweating a lot.
Covering up when outdoors by wearing a hat, long sleeves, and pants. SPF fabrics can offer added protection.
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