Freckles, melasma, and other forms of hyperpigmentation are generally harmless, but they can take a toll on your self-esteem if you’re desperately seeking a more consistent complexion. While there’s no single or surefire way to eliminate every dark spot or patch on your skin, multiple treatments are available that can reduce their prominence over time. Here are some effective ways to diminish pigmented spots on your skin so you can show off a more even and clear complexion.
Mitigating hyperpigmentation begins with protecting your skin from the sun. Sun damage is the leading cause of pigmentation problems, as prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light leads your body to produce more melanin as a protective measure -- this melanin darkens your skin, potentially yielding dark patches and spots at various locations. Of course, sunlight can also cause burns and contribute to skin cancer, so there are additional reasons to protect yourself from the sun’s rays. Wearing a broad-spectrum 30+ SPF sunscreen each and every day will minimize the sun’s harmful effects on your skin, preventing the formation of dark spots.
Shielding your skin from the sun is an important step in reducing pigmented spots, but this effort alone might not produce the results you desire. If you’re looking for a more active and aggressive approach to pigment reduction, you might ask your doctor about over-the-counter or prescription-strength topical treatments. These solutions include lightening creams like hydroquinone, retinoids (vitamin A, Retin-A), and corticosteroids. While each of these products can fade freckles and other pigment issues with repeated use, they also come with potential complications and side effects that your doctor should run through with you.
Certain acids can also help even out your skin tone when applied properly, such as glycolic, lactic, citric, azelaic, and salicylic acids. These chemicals exfoliate the upper layers of your skin to varying degrees, allowing new skin cells to take their place. While there are different ways to apply these acids, receiving a chemical peel from a qualified skincare professional will yield the best results. Not only can chemical peels reduce pigmented spots on your skin -- they can also diminish lines and wrinkles, some types of acne, scars, and more.
In recent years, lasers have become increasingly prominent and effective for treating numerous cosmetic conditions, including hyperpigmentation. Laser resurfacing involves targeting the regions of skin in question (i.e., those featuring unwanted pigmentation) and blasting them with pulses of high-energy light. This light becomes heat, which destroys pigmented cells inside the skin, resulting in a more even skin tone after multiple treatments. Lasers like ActiveFX can remove up to 80% of melanin in a single session, while Fraxel Re:pair and Re:store lasers can treat a variety of skin conditions, including hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, redness, and more. When administered properly, these procedures are low-risk, yielding minor side effects such as temporary irritation, redness, and inflammation.
In addition to chemical peels and laser treatments, cosmetic dermatologists can also deploy manual exfoliating techniques to reduce dark spots and other issues. Microdermabrasion essentially sands the outer layers of skin with a fine, abrasive surface in order to remove dead skin cells and encourage new skin cell growth (much like chemical peeling). This procedure can help remove freckles and dark spots, diminish fine lines and wrinkles, shrink pores, fade acne scars and stretch marks, reverse sun damage, and more.
Most people deal with some degree of unwanted pigmentation during their lives. The good news is that you can do something about this issue if you want to. At Premier Dermatology Partners, we help our patients find the optimal solutions for their cosmetic concerns to make them feel happier, healthier, and more confident. To learn more about our providers and all the services we offer, contact us today.