As you get older, you might start to notice dark spots developing on your skin, particularly on your face (forehead, T-zone, and cheeks).
Actually, it’s not just older adults that can develop dark spots. Depending on their skincare routine (or lack thereof) and certain conditions like hormonal imbalances, young people can also develop dark spots on their skin.
Dark spots, also known as hyperpigmentation with one special case called Melasma, can develop for a number of reasons. When it comes to treating dark spots on the skin, it’s important to determine what the root cause is first.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about hyperpigmentation and Melasma prevention, treatment, and removal in Toronto.
What Is Skin Hyperpigmentation?
Melanin is a natural pigment that exists in the skin. It’s what gives your skin its natural pigmentation. People with darker skin have more melanin than people with lighter skin. However, melanin doesn’t just determine your skin colour. It’s also responsible for your hair and eye colour as well.
Melanocytes are the cells in your body that produce melanin. Everyone is born with the same amount of melanocytes. The behaviour of these cells is what determines the pigmentation of your skin, eyes, and hair.
Aside from determining the colour of your features, melanin naturally also protects your skin, hair, and eyes from the harmful UV rays of the sun. Melanin production in the skin and hair increase whenever your body is exposed to the sun. The portions of your skin that are directly exposed to the sun get darker or tanned. To prevent or repair sun damage, melanin production can sometimes go into overdrive, leaving some parts of the skin looking darker than the rest. This is what’s known as skin hyperpigmentation.
Main Reasons for Uneven Melanin Production
Although excessive sun exposure is one of the main reasons for hyperpigmentation or developing dark spots on the skin, there are a few other common reasons that you should know about.
Sunspots (Solar Lentigines)
Unprotected or overexposure to the harmful UV rays of the sun cause the melanocytes in your body to go into overdrive and produce excessive amounts of melanin in certain parts of your skin that get more sun exposure. This is a natural bodily response that’s meant to protect your skin and repair sun damage. As a result, you may develop solar lentigines (benign sun-induced lesions), sunspots, freckles, or even liver spots.
The best form of protection is prevention. Follow a healthy daily skincare routine that includes using a minimum SPF-15 sunscreen/moisturizer, even if you’re not planning on going to the beach.
Hormonal Spots: Melasma
Sometimes dark spots on the skin can be caused by internal factors such as hormonal imbalances or changes. Women who are menstruating, pregnant, or have just given birth are more likely to develop dark spots on their skin as a result of hormonal changes. Melasma, aka “pregnancy mask”, is the development of dark spots around the cheeks and forehead, is most prevalent post-pregnancy as the body recalibrates its hormonal production process.
Side Effects of Medication
Dark spots on the skin can be side effects of certain medications that are formulated to relieve inflammation, bodily pains and aches, fever, and headaches. These are usually over-the-counter medications that are classified as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Trauma Spots: Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIHP)
As the name suggests, PIHP is caused by some form of skin trauma or injury. The result is a pink, red, brown, or even black scar formation that appears on the affected area of the skin. The colour and shade of the scar depends on the level of trauma endured and the natural pigmentation of your skin.
Trauma can include anything from rashes (eczema) to acne, burns, and even bug bites. The most common PIHP is related to acne, and both acne and post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation of acne should be treated at the same time. Otherwise, you can get rid of PIHP from acne and then run the risk of new acne occurring and new acne scars.
There’s a reason why skincare experts advise patients to refrain from popping pimples or constantly touching skin injuries. Failing to properly treat skin injuries can lead to permanent scarring that can only be treated with clinical skincare treatments such as microneedling or laser therapy.
Diabetes doesn’t just negatively impact your blood sugar levels. There are actually quite a few symptoms and signs of diabetes. Hyperpigmentation in the skin is just one of them. A physical hallmark of diabetic dermopathy is what’s known as “shin spots”. These are scaly, light brown patches of skin that appear around the shins. They’re usually circular or oval-shaped and are caused by damage to the small blood vessels throughout your body that deliver nutrients and oxygen to the tissues.
Effective At-Home Treatment Options for Dark Spots on the Skin
If you’re unable to see a dermatologist or other skincare specialist, here are a few effective skincare treatment options that you can try at home. These are mostly suited for cosmetic skincare issues. For more serious treatment needs, it’s better to consult a doctor.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) and Retinol
AHA increases cell turnover and removes dead, discoloured skin cells from the surface of your skin. These can include glycolic acid, and lactic acid, which acts as a moisturizer that keeps the skin from drying out.
Retinol actively promotes cell turnover and removes discoloured skin cells. You can find a combination of these AHAs and retinol in common skincare and moisturizing products. Check the ingredients list before purchasing them.
Eventone and Lightening Lotion
AlumierMD is an industry leader and a recognized medically grade brand that carries a few popular skin brightening products, such as:
- Eventone, a lightweight brightening serum, containing natural skin-lightening agents to brighten complexion and reduce hyperpigmentation. It is hydroquinone-free.
- Lightening Lotion, a lightweight formulation with 2% hydroquinone and powerful brightening agents that reduces the appearance of hyperpigmentation.
- Intellibright Complex, which contains naturally powerful pigment inhibitors. It brightens the complexion, reduces the appearance of hyperpigmentation, and prevents new pigments.
- Vitamin Rich Smoother (C&E), a powerful multitasker that works as a primer by smoothing skin texture and delivering anti-aging vitamins C and E.
Whether you drink it in orange juice, take a supplement, or apply it to your skin in a topical serum or cream, there are a lot of excellent benefits to including Vitamin C in your daily skincare routine. Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant that can help eliminate and prevent dark spots. It’s also a great exfoliator that removes dead skin cells and repairs damaged ones.
Professional Hyperpigmentation and Melasma Treatment Options in Toronto
If you’ve tried a number of at-home skincare treatments with little to no success, your next option is to try professional hyperpigmentation and Melasma treatment in Toronto. At the Anti Aging Toronto Clinic, we offer the following treatments:
- Chemical Peels, which loosens up the connectivity between the skin cell to release dead cell and impurities and to improve the skin appearance and quality
- Laser Peels, also known as Hollywood Spectra Peel, which use Nd YAG Q-switch laser to reduce signs of aging, including hyperpigmentation or liver spots on the skin.
Our procedures are minimally invasive, so you don’t have to worry about a long down time or getting too much attention. Feel free to contact us by phone at (416) 546-4664 or by e-mail at info@AntiAgingToronto.ca to ask any questions. You could also check out our testimonials here to see what our patients have to say about us!