Saturday, October 16, 2010

How to Get Rid of Dark Spots on Your Face


Dark spots appear when skin cells produce more pigment than usual. In most cases, this happens in blotchy spots, primarily on the forehead and around the eyes. According to Natural Health magazine, dark spots on the face are caused mainly by sun exposure but can also be produced by hormonal fluctuations and skin inflammation such as eczema or psoriasis.

Step 1

Wear sunscreen at all times, even when it's cloudy, as the sun rays can still shine through enough to affect your skin. Sunscreen will prevent spots from getting even darker and will also protect your skin. Some treatments for dark spots, such as AHA creams and chemical peels, cause skin sensitivity and make you more susceptible to burning.

Step 2

Talk to a dermatologist. While home treatments for dark spots exist, products sold over the counter are usually too mild to make a significant difference. A doctor will be able to evaluate what's the best course of action. If you don't want anything too invasive, ask your doctor for a prescription for hydroquinone, a lightening cream. Hydroquinone is a powerful bleaching agent, so you must apply it only on the dark areas.

Step 3

Try a chemical peel if you're looking for a quicker solution from the doctor. According to, chemical peels can be performed in a number of strengths. If your skin is sensitive, ask your doctor about mild peels, which require no down time and cause only a slight reddening of the skin. Mild peels require several visits before results can be seen.

Step 4

Ask your doctor about more invasive treatments. For very dark spots or if you want faster results, dermabrassion and laser therapy might be able to get rid of the problem in a single visit. Deep invasive treatment will completely remove the upper surface of the skin and will require a more extensive recovery time. Redness, inflammation and pain are common.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Treatments for Pigmentation on the Face

Dark spots or patches on your skin are often associated with getting older--they're even called age spots--but their real cause is too much sun exposure. Over time, your skin produces pigment to protect itself against skin damage, says Ranella Hirsch, M.D., a cosmetic dermatologist in Cambridge, Mass., in Good Housekeeping magazine. It's always a good idea to have a dermatologist check out any large or unusually shaped dark spots to rule out the possibility of skin cancer.


Hydroquinone is the most effective self-treatment for dark spots on your face, Amy Wechsler, M.D., assistant clinical professor in dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York City, tells Allure magazine. Hydroquinone--which is available over the counter as well as in prescription-strength versions--bleaches your skin by interfering with your body's ability to produce melanin. For best results, Wechsler recommends combining hydroquinone treatments with retinol or alpha hydroxy acid treatment, since retinol and alpha hydroxy acids can speed up the process of shedding skin cells and even out skin tone. Expect hydroquinone to take four to eight weeks to completely lighten dark spots, and be vigilant about wearing sunscreen after treatments or your dark spots are likely to reappear.

Laser Therapy

For stubborn dark spots, O, The Oprah Magazine recommends asking your dermatologist about laser treatments with a Q-switched ruby laser. The laser breaks up the pigment, creating a scab that will fall off after about a week, leaving clear skin behind. The number of treatments you'll need and the cost depends on how many dark spots you have and how severe they are, but O, The Oprah Magazine says many hyperpigmentation issues respond well with just one treatment and estimates that an average session will cost between $300 and $700.

Chemical Peels

Glycolic acid and salicylic acid peels gently erode the top layer of skin, making discoloration less noticeable, says Jeanine Downie, M.D., a dermatologist in Montclair, New Jersey, in "Elle" magazine. Peels may be a good option if you have uneven skin texture or acne in addition to pigmentation issues, since they can address all three of these skin problems. For best results, Downie recommends combining in-office peel sessions with milder at-home peels.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

How to Prevent Pigmentation


Skin pigmentation disorders can take several forms. Those with a history of excess sun exposure can develop brown, black or gray oval-shaped skin lesions called age spots. Chronic acne sufferers frequently have dark spots on the face once the acne has cleared. Additionally, hormonal imbalances from pregnancy and oral contraceptive use can result in the occurrence of blotchy patches of darker skin in some women. While various cosmetic procedures can treat these skin discoloration issues, certain precautions can be taken to prevent their onset or reduce their severity when they occur.

Step 1

Protect your skin from the sun and avoid excess sun exposure. The ultraviolet rays of the sun induce the skin's pigment-producing cells to become overactive and dispense excess pigment. This can exacerbate existing pigmentation disorders and create new ones. recommends that you limit the time you spend in the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., as the sun's rays are most intense at this time. Additionally, use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher and wear protective clothing, such as a wide-brimmed hat and a long-sleeved shirt, when outside.

Step 2

Add a bleaching cream to your skin care regimen. New York City dermatologist Dr. Amy B. Lewis recommends using a skin lightening agent, such as hydroquinone, to prevent and treat hyperpigmentation. Hydroquinone blocks the enzyme tyrosinase, a necessary component in the production of skin pigment. This will keep new pigment deposits from forming while existing discolorations are flushed out of the skin through the skin cell renewal process. Look for an over-the-counter product that contains up to 2 percent hydroquinone.

Since some people have allergic reactions to this medication, conduct a patch test prior to use. DermNet NZ, the New Zealand Dermatological Society website, recommends that you apply a small amount of the medication to the skin and wait 24 hours. If no irritation occurs, use the product as directed.

Avoid benzoyl peroxide products if you have a darker skin tone. The antibacterial medication benzoyl peroxide is commonly used to control acne. However, if you have darker skin, the irritation caused by the medication can prolong the duration of postinflammatory hyperpigmentation---the dark spots left behind by acne blemishes. Talk to your dermatologist about prescribing a topical retinoid such as adapalene or tazarotene to control your acne, as these products are less irritating to the skin than benzoyl peroxide, notes the American Academy of Dermatology. Use the product as directed to avoid adverse effects.

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