Skin discolouration can be bothersome, especially when it appears in areas where people can easily see it. We understand that having a blemish that makes you seem different from other people may cause you to hide or even want to get rid of it. But you have to know that you are not different and it’s a slight blemish that can be corrected.
This article shall explain how to eliminate some skin discolouration, such as dark and brown patches, and also present their causes so you can avoid them, if possible.
Skin discolouration refers to any changes in your skin that affect your natural skin tone and give some parts a lighter or darker shade. There are different causes of skin discolouration. It can be due to biological factors such as birthmarks or health-related issues that require treatment.
Causes of skin discolouration
Many circumstances surround skin discolouration. They may be minor or major health concerns that need medical intervention or natural causes that don’t require treatment. These causes are;
The birthmark is a type of skin discolouration that occurs during or immediately after birth. Some may fade, while some are permanent and tend to get more considerable over time. Some birthmarks are hereditary, and you’ll find them on almost all family members. In some parts of the world, children born without the family’s birthmark are considered not to be theirs.
Moles are small coloured spots that often appear on the skin during or immediately after birth. It may either be flat or raised. The colour ranges from pink to light brown and sometimes black.
Moles can be on any part of the body or even directly on the face. They are often no cause of concern unless there is any change in size or shape.
- Salmon patches
Salmon patches appear on the face in areas like the eyelid, between the eyes, or on the back of the neck. These dark patches on the skin occur due to clusters of small blood vessels under the skin.
Salmon patches are often called stork bites or angel kisses. They fade in colour and go away with time. They also do not require any medical treatment.
- Port-wine marks
This birthmark occurs due to swollen blood vessels under the skin. They are flat patches that look violet, red or dark purple on dark skin tones and red or pink on lighter skin shades. They are commonly present on the neck or face.
Port-wine marks may need treatment to fade off.
- Mongolian spots
These bruise-like spots mostly appear on naturally dark skin. They are flat, bluish-grey bumps on newborns’ lower back and buttocks.
Mongolian spots usually fade away within a few years without treatment.
- Café au lait spots
The “coffee with milk” pale brown birthmark appears anytime from birth to early childhood. These spots may be more than one on the body, and they often remain for a very long time, if not forever.
However, Café au lait spots should get checked when there are six or more.
Different types of infection can also cause changes in skin colour. Infections that leave a scar that leads to skin discolouration are;
- Viral infections
These infections can cause sores and red, brown or purple bumps on the body. These viral infections include warts, cold sores, and shingles.
- Bacterial infections
When bacteria enter scrapes, cuts or any other form of wounds, it becomes infected and changes skin texture and colour.
- Fungal infections
Discolouration can also occur on the skin due to fungal diseases such as ringworm, candida, and tinea versicolor.
Another factor that contributes to the occurrence of discoloured skin patches is pigmentation disorder. Pigmentation disorders can cause hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation. Examples of pigmentation disorders are;
Albinism is often an inherited condition for those who have it. This condition shows highly light skin, hair and eyes due to the absence of melanin in the skin.
Vitiligo can appear anytime before or during adolescence. It is a condition that creates some large patches that are lighter than your normal skin tone. It may appear on some or all body parts, including the face.
Lentigo is also known as age or liver spots. Lentigo is common because it results from sun damage which everyone can’t avoid. They appear in areas more exposed to the sun, such as the face, hands, and chest.
Melasma is another type of hyperpigmentation that creates darker spots on the face and abdomen during pregnancy. It is referred to as “the mask of pregnancy” because it tends to get lighter after childbirth.
We have some medical conditions that trigger skin discolouration. They are;
Rashes and Allergies
People who have allergies to certain plants, foods, or irritants can get skin discolouration from the bumps or rashes accompanying their allergies. Examples of these are;
- Contact dermatitis
- Atopic dermatitis (Eczema)
One of the visible symptoms of skin cancer is skin discolouration. It can either be a change in skin colour or, in some cases, texture. One of these cases is cancer, with black spots on the skin.
Radiation therapy is a form of cancer treatment. This process may cause the skin to peel, and have dark skin patches or blisters.
Spider veins are more visible on the legs. Damaged veins often cause it under the skin. They may appear as purple, blue or red veins.
Medication side effects
There are quite several medications that can increase skin pigmentation and cause dark spots. These types of drugs include psychotropic drugs, tetracyclines, and NSAIDs.
When someone gets a wound from cuts, burns, or insect bites and they eventually heal, there’s a high chance of dark spots in the affected area. These types of skin discolouration tend to fade with time.
Cosmetic ways to get rid of dark and brown patches on the skin
Getting rid of skin discolouration depends on its underlying cause. Several skin discolourations may not be harmless and require no treatment except for cosmetic reasons. However, dark and brown patches from underlying health conditions may need mild or severe treatment after treating the situation.
One of the best ways to get rid of your skin discolouration is to seek advice from your dermatologist. Dermatologists have a myriad of options to get rid of dark and brown patches, such as;
Chemical peels gradually help fade dark spots on the face and body. The process includes applying a solution to the skin. This solution exfoliates the skin’s surface and allows new skin growth.
This type of treatment uses light to target melanin on the skin and break up dark spots on the skin. There are different types of laser treatment, but the one primarily used for skin discolouration involves using an intense pulse light laser. A patch test is essential for this procedure due to its risk of worsening discolouration.
Microdermabrasion is the process whereby dermatologists use a device with an abrasive surface to remove the outer layer of the skin. This process helps grow new collagen, which tends to reduce hyperpigmentation.
Another dark spot treatment used by cosmetic doctors is cryotherapy. This process involves the application of liquid nitrogen to the affected parts. The liquid nitrogen freezes and injures the skin cells around this area, then allows the skin to heal lighter.
Topical treatments for dark and brown patches on the skin
However, you should avoid using retinoids without a doctor’s prescription because of their sensitivity and tendency to irritate if not correctly used. It also increases skin sensitivity to UV light, so it should be used with a safe sunscreen when prescribed.
Several products used in treating hyperpigmentation contain hydroquinone. Using hydroquinone reduces the production of melanin, thereby lightening up dark and brown patches. However, it should be applied with caution, as higher concentration usage may cause areas around the affected area to become lighter.
When you use kojic acid, it blocks tyrosine from forming, preventing the formation of melanin. This process lightens up dark and brown patches on the skin. It is helpful to fight against hyperpigmentation from sun damage, dark spots, post-inflammatory pigmentation or melasma. Kojic acid also irritates sensitive skin and should not be used without a prescription.
Chemical exfoliants contain alpha hydroxy acids that dissolve the top layer of the skin and also increase the production of new skin cells. Examples of these are lactic acid and BHAs, such as salicylic acid.
However, chemical exfoliants should be coupled with a good SPF as they increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun.
Azelaic acid also helps lighten hyperpigmentation by reducing melanin in the affected dark and brown spots, such as hyperpigmentation and melasma on the skin.
It also works for the prevention of acne that may trigger dark spots on the skin.
Skincare products that contain vitamin C can lighten dark and brown patches that look like stains on the skin or pigmentation around scars. It is achievable by inhibiting melanin production in the affected areas.
Note: you should see a dermatologist or cosmetic doctor before including any of the ingredients mentioned above in your skincare routine, as there is a risk of them causing more hyperpigmentation when not used properly.
Home remedies to get rid of dark and brown patches on the skin
Some home remedies people try to deal with dark and brown patches on the skin. They include;
- Lemon juice
Lemon may help eliminate dark spots on the body due to the presence of vitamin C and citric acid. The lightening effect of lemon juice may help as a good bleaching agent for skin discolouration. However, it would be best to consider diluting lemon juice before use due to its acidic nature, which may prove harsh to the skin.
Applying tomato on the skin, especially the face, gives a natural glow. All you need to do is to use it on your face and rinse it off with cold water after 10 minutes.
Honey contains hydrating properties and also helps in maintaining healthy skin. Applying pure honey to your dark patches will eliminate the spots and give you smooth and radiant skin.
- Aloe vera
The Aloe Vera plant also has skin-nourishing and anti-ageing properties. It contains vitamins A, B, C and E with 90% of amino acids in the body. It improves the quality of the skin.
The presence of surplus lactic acid in buttermilk helps remove dead skin from the face and lightens up dark skin patches. Use cotton to apply buttermilk on your face for about 20 minutes, then rinse off with clean water for effective results.
It is advisable to look for products that contain these ingredients rather than use them without proper medical supervision.
There are many options to get rid of dark skin patches if they seem bothersome. Consult your dermatologist for the best options that suit your skin condition.
Most brown or dark patches on the skin occur due to melanin issues. Possible causes may be pigmentation disorders, infections, birthmarks, rashes or cancer.
Before you embark on any treatment for your skin discolouration, be sure to know the cause by consulting healthcare professionals. Healthcare professionals like dermatologists are the ones that will diagnose to see the cause of your skin discolouration if it’s sudden.
They can also proffer solutions to treat the reason, if severe and also prescribe treatment for the patches if needed. Dr Nina Bal is a renowned cosmetic doctor with a wide range of experience treating skin conditions such as hyperpigmentation, Psoriasis, Rosacea, and Melasma. Contact her to get proper consultation, diagnosis and treatment.