Dark spots appear as small, usually circular, areas of skin that are darker than the surrounding skin. They can appear alone or in groups, and they usually appear on the face, hands, arms, shoulders or back. Many people call them " age spots
" because they tend to appear more often as you get older, usually first appearing during middle age. There are many causes of dark spots, and it may be hard to pinpoint the cause (or causes) of yours. However, you should know that dark spots are hardly ever cancerous, though you may dislike their appearance.
Causes of Dark Spots
Dark spots are simply a buildup of melanin within a certain area. Melanin protects your skin
from the sun, and dark spots are areas where excess melanin has been produced. There are many causes of dark spots, and some are more common than others.
As you may have guessed, most dark spots are caused by sun exposure. If you've spent a lot of time in the sun without SPF over the years, you will probably see dark spots pop up later in life. Many women first notice age spots in their late 30s or 40s, but they can appear earlier, too.
Oddly enough, even manmade light sources can sometimes cause dark spots. One study showed that certain light bulbs can harm skin cells
, leading to dark spots. Some scientists also believe that lights from computers and televisions may contribute to dark spot formation.
Like many unwanted health conditions, dark spots can be genetic. If your mother or father had a lot of dark spots, then you're more likely to have them.
, particularly estrogen, may make you more likely to form dark spots. However, you still need some form of sun exposure to activate the dark spots. Many women first notice dark spots during or after pregnancy. Others may notice an increase in dark spots while taking hormonal medications, such as birth control or menopause treatments. In fact, menopause itself can cause dark spots.
Ironically, some skin treatments can cause dark spots. Scrubs and pimple removers are the most common culprits. These place stress on the skin, causing dark spots to develop. Even without a remover, pimples alone can cause dark spots that are often referred to as acne scars. After a pimple disappears, you may notice a dark spot form in its place.
How to Remove Dark Spots
Though dark spots usually aren't harmful, you should always have them checked by a dermatologist, just in case. He or she may recommend treatment if there's any cause for concern. If the dark spots aren't dangerous, you may still choose to remove them for aesthetic reasons. Here are some treatments you can try at home that may help.
1.Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil (Melaleuca Alternifolia Leaf Oil) is often the first treatment of choice for many skin conditions, including acne, fungus, rosacea and skin tags. It's also useful for dark spots. You can dab pure tea tree oil, mixed with a carrier oil or water to prevent irritation, on the dark spots each day. Over time, the dark spots should fade. Many skin products on the market include pure tea tree oil. These should also be effective.
2.Citrus Fruit Extract
The juices from citrus fruits
(lemon or lime) can lighten dark spots. You can rub half a lemon or lime directly on your skin or apply pure lemon or lime juice onto the area. Once the juice dries, wash your skin. This treatment may not show immediate results, but you'll gradually notice that your dark spots are fading. The acid in the juices breaks down the top layer of your skin, increasing cell turnover, which causes dark spots to disappear. You may also chose to use lime extract, Citrus Aurantifolia.
If your skin is too sensitive for tea tree oil or citrus juice, buttermilk is a great alternative dark spot remedy. It contains lactic acid, which works the same way as citrus acid but doesn't usually cause a negative reaction on sensitive skin. You can wash your whole face in buttermilk or simply dab small amounts onto your dark spots. They should fade after a while if the treatment is repeated daily.
Aloe vera is a soothing treatment for many skin conditions. You've probably used it for burns in the past. It also removes dark spots by aiding new skin formation. Just rub a bit of aloe vera on the affected area once or twice per day. You can massage the skin for a bit to aid the dark spot removal process. Leave the aloe vera on for at least 20 minutes before washing.
Many people find success with commercial brightening serums. These can greatly minimize the appearance of dark spots. There is a range of serums available, and each has a different combination of ingredients. Many will include some of the treatments listed above. Others may have a combination of vitamins or re-texturing acids. Your dermatologist can help you find the best serum for your dark spots.
Because none of these treatments will permanently remove dark spots and keep them from recurring, prevention is the best defense. If you dislike dark spots, you should use sunscreen every day and minimize harsh skin treatments. If you have a pimple, dab it with the most gentle treatment available. If needed, you can talk to your doctor about hormonal medications to find one that doesn't cause dark spots.
Whichever method you choose for treatment, it may be comforting to know that dark spots are usually not cancerous and are often most noticeable to you. By taking some preventive measures like regular use of sunscreen, you can reduce their appearance and keep them from coming back.