What are all these brown spots?

Freckles can be really cute when you are young, then as we get older we start to wonder what are all these brown spot that appear. They start to change by growing in numbers, looking like patches, and some even have a rough texture to them. This is nothing other than the lovely process of aging! Luckily there are plenty of options to reducing the appearance of these brown spots, we just have to know what kind they are exactly in order to remove them. Read below to figure out what may lie beneath the surface of your skin.

Decoding Your Spots

Freckles:

These are the cute little spots that you have most likely had since you were a kid. Sometimes when you are in the sun they can show up more prominently, and other times in the winter months they can vanish. Freckles are harmless, and sometimes pretty and just add a little character when kept under control. If you don’t like your freckles you can use skin lightening products (including the ingredients hydroquinone or kojic acid), have them removed with IPL (intense pulsed light therapy), get chemical peels, and avoid the sun at all costs. If you like your freckles, then embrace them!

                   *Photo shows real results before and after BBL treatment to remove freckles and sun damage.

Age Spots:

Age spots (aka solar lentigo) are nasty little things, yet they are inevitable for all of us. They are harmless small/medium patches of dark skin cells (melanin) that have been triggered by UV rays from the sun. This is also known as sun damage. Sometimes these brown spots can have irregular borders, and are usually flat surfaced. These kind of brown spots are most common for people in their 40’s and up, but can definitely start to show on younger people who have had a lot previous of sun exposure. To get rid of them will take a little more work, and a little more patience. Keep in mind how long it has taken to create them, so you need to be realistic when trying to make them disappear. This best treatment for age spots are going to be lasers (including IPL, BBL, and Hybrid Pro-fractionated lasers aka Halo), chemical peels, and the tried and true skin care line Obagi Nu-Derm System.

Melasma:

Have you noticed large tan patches of skin on your face that resemble a mask? Sometimes the patches even take on the appearance of a tan mustache, or large brown circular shapes on the cheeks and forehead. If this is you, I have bad news…this will be a tough, long road to get rid of it. Melasma is a pigment disorder that is triggered by hormonal fluctuations and exacerbated by sun, heat, and UV light. Once you have melasma, you will always have it. The proper steps can be taken to reduce the appearance and keep it under control. These steps include calming the production of melanin (the color) in your skin with inhibitors such as hydroquinone, tretinoin, and kojic acid. Your dermatologist can prescribe these to you catered to your skin type. On a side note, there are certain treatments that will be off-limits to you, including lasers, waxing, and any heat producing therapies. Daily use of a broad spectrum SPF of 50 or higher is critical, and should be appropriately re-applied throughout the day. Pregnancy and birth control pills are also triggers, and are usually the culprit as to why it got there in the first place.

                                       *Photo shows results from Obagi for improving the appearance of melasma.

Seborrheic keratosis:

Also known as SK’s, these can appear very similar to moles or warts. They are raised, round skin growths that show up as we age. They are most common in people over 40, but some can get them even in their 30’s. SK’s often scare people into thinking that they have a cancerous mole, but are really just impersonators and are harmless and ugly. The sun may play a factor as to why they appear, and they can also be hereditary. They are easy to remove usually by a biopsy or can be frozen or burned off by your dermatologist. You should have all of your moles checked yearly by a dermatologist to be sure that you aren’t self-diagnosing and SK as something more serious.

What do all of these have in common?

One main factor: the sun. Please remember to wear a daily SPF 30 or higher and reapply as needed! Also, they should be diagnosed by a dermatologist and checked yearly. Better safe than sorry!

 

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