James thanks his dubious genetics for his many frustrating skin-related ailments.
Witnessing the gradual or sudden onset of dark spots on your face can be frustrating and disconcerting.
In most cases, these dark patches, also known as "brown spots" or "liver spots" are triggered by natural, everyday causes such as anxiety, the weather, or age.
While you may be able to mask them with makeup, I find it far more efficient to take the time to understand how to get rid of them naturally and completely with a few easy home remedies.
Not all spots share the same causes, nor do they always respond to the same treatment, thus my aim with this article is to provide a general set of home remedies that most readers will benefit from.
If these tips don't work for you, a dermatologist will undoubtedly be able to outline a solution and give you a more targeted diagnosis (albeit at a price).
In this article:
- What causes dark spots on the face
- Home remedies for dark spots
- Common triggers
- Preventing hyperpigmentation
- Proven commercial remedies
- When to see a doctor
What Causes Dark Spots?
Dark spots on the face are caused by hyperpigmentation of the skin due to an increase in the production of Melanin.
This hyperpigmentation is not harmful or a cause for worry. However, its removal is an understandable cosmetic concern.
Hyperpigmentation is usually triggered by external stimuli such as overexposure to the sun or a tanning bed. There are, however, many other causes.
Home Remedies for Dark Spots on Your Face
If you're fairly certain that your dark spots do not stem from poor facial hygiene and are more likely to be caused by skin discoloration, my first suggestion would be to try one of several types of facial dark spot lightening masks that you can easily make at home:
Turmeric and lemon mask
Mix turmeric with a few drops of lemon and let the paste sit until it dries (15 min). Then rinse.
Taken orally, either by modifying your existing diet with more fruits and veggies or by taking a supplement.
Strawberry lemon mask
Mash 8-9 strawberries into a bowl and add 3 tablespoons of honey. Apply to face and wait 15 minutes. Rinse and moisturize.
Cucumber and yogurt mask
Slice 3/4 of a whole cucumber and add 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt. Mix and apply to the face until it dries (15 min). Then rinse and moisturize.
Sugar And Lemon Scrub
Combine 6 tablespoons of lemon juice extract with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Apply to your face until the mixture dries then moisturize.
Aloe vera gel
Unless you have the plant at home you're likely going to want to buy this from the store. If you do, make sure it is face-friendly. No alcohol or other irritants!
There are dozens of triggers, however, these are by far the most common:
- Stress: Anxiety restricts blow flow to the skin depriving it of oxygen. This, in turn, can lead to uneven pigmentation as well as coarseness and a sand-paper-like texture.
- Age: Years of sun exposure can lead to the "clumping up" of melanin.
- Hormonal imbalance: A sudden increase in estrogen, either due to birth control pills or pregnancy, can make you more susceptible to Melasma.
- Sun damage: Dark spots can become a chronic and cyclical issue during the summer months.
- Exposure to certain chemicals.
- Inflammation of the skin: Dark spot flare-ups are known to occur in the wake of skin inflammation disorders such as psoriasis or acne.
- Diabetes: Diabetes can cause skin darkening (usually in the lower legs) in the form of diabetic dermopathy which is often confused with age spots.
Completely preventing discoloration isn't always possible. Exfoliating regularly is a great step to take with regards to both prevention and curing.
By cleaning up the pores in the skin, you minimize the emergence of blackheads and other skin blemishes that cause inflammation and subsequently dark spots.
Consistent sun-screen usage during the summer can drastically reduce hyperpigmentation due to sun damage. Solar rays will dark existing dark spots!
Other Proven Remedies
Strictly speaking, some chemical peel solutions don't require medical supervision, but I would heartily recommend seeing a dermatologist anyway.
- Chemical peels: If you don't mind the notion of having a glycolic acid chemical solution applied to your face, consider chemical peeling as a swift way to improve the quality of your skin.
- Laser therapy: Instant gratification is expensive. But, if you can afford it you will benefit very rapidly from the results. Another pro of using laser therapy is that you will be monitored and correctly diagnosed by a professional.
- Dermabrasion: A procedure that removes the outer layer of your skin. Performed under general anesthesia or with a sedative.
- Over-the-counter creams: There are a number of commercial recipes that have been produced with the sole aim of annihilating the dark spots on your face, usually by promoting exfoliation with alpha hydroxy acid or retinoid (retinol, tretinoin, or tazarotene).
- Prescription-based creams: Some prescription-only creams such as Hydroquinone can lighten the skin directly by bleaching it. Use with caution! Here's a warning by the FDA about skin-lightening products.
- Cryotherapy: A coating of liquid nitrogen freezes the darkened area injuring the skin cells. The healing process should regenerate the lighter skin shade.
No article on how to get rid of dark spots would be complete without the following disclaimer.
- Before trying anything semi-permanent, it is imperative you know what kind of spot you are dealing with. For instance, if they are age spots, you wouldn't want to lighten your face to the point where freckles are removed.
- Secondly, certain kinds can be indicative of other problems (liver disease and pituitary tumors are a couple of unfortunate examples) which may need to be evaluated by a professional. Although the chances are slim that you have anything serious, and especially if the solutions above don't seem to work, it pays to be a little careful!
When to See a Doctor
While most dark spots are benign, there are certain scenarios that warrant a trip to a dermatologist.
If you notice that your dark spots:
- bleed or appear infected.
- change in size or color.
- are resistant to home or over-the-counter remedies,
In these cases, you'll want a professional diagnosis to formulate a more effective long-term treatment plan.
Dark Spots or Melanoma?
In rare cases, dark spots can be confused with melanoma, a malignant form of skin cancer. Learn how to tell the difference by applying your ABCDEs.
- A for asymmetry. If one side of the spot looks different from the other.
- B for borders. Are the spot's borders fuzzy or rough?
- C for color. Varying shades of color can be an indication of cancerous growth.
- D for diameter. If the spot is large.
- E for evolving. Is the large spot growing or changing shape?
You'll also want to consider and factor in whether or not your family has a history of melanoma, your skin color and tone, and whether or not you have a history of sun exposure and burns.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2011 James Nelmondo
am matilda on March 06, 2019:
What can of milk can I use
Nicole S Hanson from Minnesota on April 17, 2013:
The laser method seems so serious! I'll have to look into that more. Thanks for your tips and information here.
Chibuzor victor obiorah on January 04, 2012:
Just wash ur face reguraly with a good soap,and stop using unverified cream by dermatologist,drink water as much as you can,it works for me.
Chibuzor victor obiorah on December 29, 2011:
I need some solution to my face.
j jayy pekin on December 26, 2011:
thank you so much hub. lol
James Nelmondo (author) from Rome, Italy on October 31, 2011:
Thank you Admiral! I wouldn't be so discouraged!
Admiral_Joraxx from Philippines on October 27, 2011:
Things like these are really discouraging. Thanks for sharing this great helpful hub. 1 vote up.