Friday, July 15, 2011

How to Get Rid of Dark Spots

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Another name for dark spots on your skin is hyperpigmentation. There are a lot of reasons for them to form, and they are mostly harmless. Humans and many other animals have a substance in our skin called melanin, which offers a certain level of protection against damaging ultraviolet (UV) light. Exposure to UV radiation (i.e. being out in the sun for a while) is often a factor in the development of dark spots, but that's not always the case.

Other possible types are freckles, moles, acne, rashes, infections, or even just changes in skin color based on location on the body. These are typically benign, even if some people see them as a flaw in their complexion. Unfortunately, some dark spots can also be a sign of other health problems, namely cancer. Any skin growth that pops up without an explanation or previous occurrence deserves a trip to the doctor, if only to be on the safe side.

Getting Rid of Dark Spots

image 1Scars are difficult to remove. Whether from a surgery or a run-in with a feral cat, scars are a constant reminder of some kind of violent or hurtful life event. I'd say that most people are okay with the minor scars that happen, but who could blame someone for wanting to get rid one that is large and in an inconvenient place? The first thing to remember about scars is that the quicker and cleaner a wound is as it heals, the less potential there is for scarring. Once the wound has healed, moisturizing and massaging a scar can help your body make the scar less obvious. However, if the wound was a major one, it is likely that a scar will still be visible. Surgical procedures are available that can help get rid of scars, but you will need to talk to a dermatologist.
image 2Freckles come and go with the seasons. Freckles are a genetic trait most often associated with fair skin. They differ from moles in that they are normal cells which are triggered to increase melanin production with exposure to the sun's UV rays. People with fairer skin should always be careful when out in the sunlight anyways, but if you are worried about freckles, avoidance is your safest bet. There are good sunblocks available to help protect your skin from UV light. Freckles that don't fade with lack of exposure to sunlight are known as lentigines or "liver spots." For everything freckle, please see the article How to Get Rid of Freckles.
image 3Moles are common on our skin. Moles are, essentially, denser areas of melanin producing cells in our skin. They are occasionally, but not always, raised from the surface. If they grow quickly, you should get them checked out by a doctor and rule out skin cancer. Getting rid of moles with the help of a doctor is most commonly performed by excision involving a scalpel, cryotherapy, laser removal, or chemical peel. The idea is that you are literally getting rid of that area of skin. There are some skin creams that claim to help reduce the visibility of moles, but a trip to a dermatologist is your best bet. For more information, check out our article How to Get Rid of a Skin Mole.
image 4If acne spots were easy to get rid of, no one would have them. Acne is caused by an infection of the oil glands in our skin, and often related to hormonal changes. In most cases, they become plugged with excess oil, dirt, and dead skin, which prevents the gland from working properly. This leads to a bacterial infection and inflammation, and that's pretty much the gist of it. We've all had a pimple or two, but some people have been cursed with a genetic propensity for serious, scarring, stigmatizing acne. Keeping your face clean and using prescription acne creams or peels will help to a certain extent. Laser resurfacing, chemical peels, and dermabrasion therapy might be your only option for getting rid of acne-caused scars.
image 5Acanthosis nigricans are a fairly common skin discoloration. These dark spots usually occur in the folds of the body. This is especially true if you have a few extra pounds. As your legs or arms rub together, the body increases the thickness of the skin to deal with the friction. As can be the case, these spots could also be related to diabetic insulin resistance, hyperthyroidism, or polycystic ovary syndrome, all of which require medical attention. Some options for preventing dark spots include weight loss, reducing friction with a medicated body powder, and wearing loose clothing to keep the heat down. It is also possible to lighten the area with skin bleaching creams (hydroquinone), but results would be purely aesthetic and not a substitute for a medical condition.

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