What causes dark spots?
“Dark spots are often a result of an inflammatory skin process, like acne, eczema, and psoriasis,” says Dr. Lal. “Dark spots are more common in people of color due to hyperactive melanocytes–pigment making cells. By far, pimples are the most common cause of dark spots. Dark spots are very hard to treat and treatment requires a multimodal approach. Treatment starts with strict sun protection with broad spectrum sunscreen use with frequent reapplication.” It’s important to watch dark spots carefully, as they can also be a sign of more serious illness. “They can be a sign of sun damage and occasionally these can be concerning for skin cancer and should be evaluated by a board certified dermatologist, particularly in fair-skinned individuals,” adds Dr. Ibrahimi.
Can topical creams or serums fade dark spots?
“Using a fading cream or serum once a day in conjunction with sunscreen can significantly reduce the appearance of dark spots,” says Dr. Karan Lal. Although a dermatologist can prescribe hydroquinone, there are lots of over-the-counter ingredients that can also be effective. For Dr. Ibrahimi, vitamin C, kojic acid, arbutin, lignin peroxidase, aleosin and cystamine are some of his favorite dark-spot fading ingredients. As with most skincare routines, it’s important to keep to a regimented routine. “Persistence is key!” notes Dr. Lal.
What are some in-office treatments that can help correct dark spots?
If topical creams aren’t bringing you the results you’re seeking, in-office treatments can be very beneficial. “Chemical peels are the backbone of dark spot treatment,” says Dr. Lal. “They are safe and multiple treatments are required. If chemical peels don’t work or help, picosecond pigment lasers can be used to break up pigment. Fractional nonablative lasers can also help break up pigment. Often times we use a combination approach with creams and chemical peels with or without lasers. The earlier you seek treatment the better your chances are at getting rid of the dark spots.”