Skin Discoloration

Skin Discoloration

Skin Discoloration
There's a range of reasons for skin discoloration. When the body's immune system attacks the skin's pigment cells, pigment is lost -- a common skin disease known as vitiligo. Acne or a wound may cause post-inflammation pigmentation. Brown spots, also known as liver spots or age spots, are caused by sun exposure. This hyperpigmentation is in response to UV exposure, resulting in overproduction of melanin. Whatever your skin issue, learn more about treatments and ways to prevent damage with expert advice from Sharecare.

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    A , Dermatology, answered

    There are many causes for white spots. Here are 3 common ones:

    • Vitiligo is a common skin disease that results in loss of pigment (color) because the immune system is attacking the pigment cells. It can occur all over. Medications such as topical steroids can help the color come back.
    • Tinea versicolor is a common yeast infection of the skin. It occurs mostly in summer and mostly on the chest and back. Dandruff shampoo, which also treats yeast, can be an easy, effective treatment. Often the treatment has to be repeated weekly to keep the yeast away.
    • Some people develop white spots on their arms and legs as the result of sun damage. Years of excess sun exposure can lead to dime-sized spots where the pigment is lighter than surrounding areas. Sun protection is essential to prevent worsening, but there is no way to make the color come back. 
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    Although melanoma may begin in or around a pre-existing mole, it often appears without warning on clear skin. You should bring your condition to the attention of your healthcare professional for further evaluation and an accurate diagnosis.
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    A , Dermatology, answered
    Years of unprotected sun exposure lead to over-productive pigment-producing skin cells (melanocytes). A multitude of over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription (Rx) bleaches exist to help even out skin tone. The additional use of a nighttime vitamin A cream containing retinol can help speed along results. A broad spectrum SPF 30 for sun protection is mandatory. Be patient; bleaching with any regimen usually takes 6-12 months or more.
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    A , Dermatology, answered

    If you are using at home treatments, you need four different products:

    1. First, you need sunscreen since brown spots are caused in the first place by too much sun exposure. You certainly want to use an effective sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 to 30 with broad spectrum protection. I recommend a chem free sunscreen with titanium or zinc to help prevent more dark spots or making your brown spots even darker.

    2. Second, you need a depigmentor or bleach cream to help eliminate the production of excess melanin that contributes to all brown spots.

    3. Third (and so important), a gentle chemical exfoliant, usually glycolic based, that will help invisibly peel off the extra layers of dead cells that are holding all of the brown pigment that has been made over those years as you are accumulating your brown spots. 

    4. Fourth, a Vitamin C based topical antioxidant works with the depigmentor to help lower the amount of pigment that your cells will make. But remember, they really only work at nighttime when there's no solar UV radiation.

    This type of regimen often works, but not always. If it does not make your brown spots light enough you can see your dermatologist who can make them go away completely with quick and painless laser treatment.

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    A , Dermatology, answered
    Topical lightening agents such as kojic acid and hydroquinone will fade brown spots over time, but that can require a long wait. Spot treatments with over-the-counter-strength kojic acid and 2% hydroquinone can take at least six months to work, since they are so mild.

    Someone with even moderate hyperpigmentation should see a dermatologist not only to take care of the problem (with prescription strength medication or cosmetic procedures) but to make sure that any discoloration is not skin cancer. It is a smart idea to have a doctor take a look at any brown spots for health reasons, then minister to them cosmetically.
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    Consistent, daily (not just when you remember!) use of treatment products is key to scoring visible improvement of skin discoloration following acne. The combination of daily sunscreen with topical creams that contain hydroquinone, tretinoin, corticosteroids, glycolic acid or azelaic acid can reap substantial results, David Bank, MD, president of the New York State Society for Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, told us.

    In-office procedures vary by the depth and amount of pigmentation area targeted, and can include lasers like Vbeam ($500-$1500), Fraxel ($500-$1500), Alex TriVantage ($350-$500), Clear and Brilliant ($500), microdermabrasion ($100-$250) and medical-strength bleaching pads, say the experts.
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    The Vbeam ($500) is today’s standard laser treatment for red spots on the face, says L’Oréal Paris Consulting Dermatologist, Gervaise Gerstner, MD.

    Additionally, holding a cold compress on the affected area can minimize the look of broken blood vessels; make sure cold packs are always wrapped in a paper towel or thin cloth so that you don’t risk freezer-burning skin with direct contact.

    “Applying any face cream that has a high content of niacinamide, vitamin C or K before bed will help, as will changing your diet to provide more of these vitamins,” David Bank, MD, president of the New York State Society for Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, told us.
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    A , Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered
    Brown spots, also called liver spots or age spots, are caused by sun exposure. They occur most often on the face, the backs of the hands, and other areas often exposed to sun. They are sometimes tan-colored rather than brown and are medically known as lentigines.

    Melasma is another type of brown spot. Melasma is caused by sun exposure and is more common in women who are pregnant or on oral contraceptives. These types of brown spots are harmless.

    In rare cases, brown spots are caused by certain hereditary illnesses. Talk to your dermatologist for more information about brown spots.
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    A , Dermatology, answered
    What can I do to correct uneven skin tone or discoloration on my face?
    To correct uneven skin tone or discoloration on your face, there are both OTC and prescription solutions that could work for you. Watch dermatologist Doris Day, MD, discuss why limiting sun exposure and seeing your dermatologist are also important.
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    A dizzying array of products that purport to lighten and brighten brown sun spots and hyperpigmentation of the skin flood the shelves today. According to David Bank, MD, president of the New York State Society for Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, the most effective ingredients to look for on ingredient labels are retinol, licorice root extract and ascorbic acid (another name for vitamin C).

    Depending on the depth of and darkness of your damage, you may choose a professional treatment. These include: Fraxel laser ($500-$1500), Diode laser ($500-$1000) or lighter chemical peels that employ glycolic, kojic or ascorbic acids ($150-$300).