People with black skin can be vulnerable to dark spots that may appear on the face or other body parts. These areas of hyperpigmentation arise as a result of exposure to the sun or, more generally, grow on areas of the skin that have been previously inflamed.
In this post, we look at home remedies for dark spots on black skin and medical treatments. We also look at methods of prevention.
On black skin, dark spots can occur when the skin overproduces melanin. The substance that gives the skin its color is melanin.
Sun exposure and hormonal changes, such as those that occur during pregnancy, include factors that can cause excess melanin development.
Dark spots may also occur due to inflammation or skin damage, such as from:
Even daily skin care practices can lead to the growth of dark spots. Using rough scrubs, waxing, and shaving can all cause slight damage to the skin that leads to changes in the skin.
How to get rid of dark spots
The therapy that a person needs will rely on their type of skin and the nature of the discoloration. Dark spots are not generally harmful, so unless a person considers them bothersome, it might not be appropriate to seek care.
The “ wait and see ” approach
No treatment could be the best choice in some cases, as the spots may go away over time.
For example, for certain forms of hyperpigmentation that occur during pregnancy or those that arise after an acne pimple disappears, this may be the case.
The use of sun protection will, meanwhile, help prevent the spots from becoming darker.
Removal of the cause
If the discoloration is the result of a skin care product or some drugs, it can prevent the development of new dark spots by stopping the use of these products.
Once a person removes the cause of the spots, any existing ones will usually fade within 6 to 12 months, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). However, it is important to use regular sunscreen to help the area fade and prevent it from being darkened by the sun.
However, darker spots can take years to fade. Medical treatments or products for skin lightening may help in these situations.
Treatment of underlying medical conditions
It is likely that careful treatment of current skin disorders, such as acne or psoriasis, will help avoid the emergence of new spots.
Over time, any dark spots that are still on the skin because of these conditions can then fade away.
Adequate sun protection is recommended for all, regardless of skin type or colour, but research indicates that among non-Hispanic black people, sunscreen use is particularly low.
For most dark skin spots, the sun’s ultraviolet ( UV) rays are responsible. The UV rays cause the development of excess melanin, causing new hyperpigmentation areas and darkening existing areas.
The AAD urges all to use sunscreen:
- has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30
- protects against UVA and UVB rays (manufacturers may label it as broad spectrum)
- is water resistant
People should apply it to all areas of exposed skin — not just the face — and wear it year-round.
Some people claim that dark spots on black skin can be effectively minimized by natural remedies. The remedies that are most common include:
There is no empirical proof, however, that these natural remedies lighten hyperpigmentation regions. Other skin disorders can also cause some of them. Lemon juice, for instance, will dry out and irritate the skin.
However, overall, if people use them sparingly, these natural products are unlikely to cause damage.
For treating an irregular skin tone, some products are available over the counter. A individual should choose a skin lightener that contains one of the following for the best outcomes:
A potent antioxidant is vitamin C. Research indicates that when it comes to skin care, it can protect against sun damage, raise collagen levels, and decrease melanin formation to avoid hyperpigmentation.
However, due to the poor ability of current preparations to penetrate the skin, it is unknown how effective it can be.
Vitamin C serums are available in pharmacies.
A very common treatment for dark spots is hydroquinone. It functions similarly to vitamin C by inhibiting the development of melanin.
Usually, over-the-counter ( OTC) products contain 2% hydroquinone, while prescription creams contain 4%.
Creams that contain hydroquinone are available in some drug stores and pharmacies.
Another common skin lightener is Kojic acid.
It can, however, be less effective for dark spots than other remedies. A research on a form of hyperpigmentation called melasma showed that a better and quicker hyperpigmentation treatment than 0.75 percent kojic acid cream was 4 percent hydroquinone cream.
People can purchase kojic acid solutions in some drug stores.
Adapalene 0.1 percent gel (Differin) is an anti-inflammatory OTC treatment which helps stop the formation of acne comedones.
Dermatologists may suggest balancing out the skin complexion of an individual and lightening dark spots in addition to preventing breakouts of acne.
Some individuals may prefer to consider medical treatments if home remedies do not help get rid of the dark spots.
These can cause adverse reactions, so it is best to discuss with a dermatologist the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative before seeking care.
Medical treatments include:
To remove areas of hyperpigmentation, laser therapy uses a beam of light.
Research shows that laser therapy is effective and gives lasting outcomes. It is costly, however, and requires several sessions. It may lighten the skin surrounding the dark spots if the doctor accidentally targets those areas. In place of a dark spot, it may also create a lighter spot.
Chemical peels exfoliate the skin but go deeper, such as microdermabrasion, than other processes. Although they can be effective, strong chemical peels may burn the skin or even produce further pigment changes.
This treatment may be costly, and to achieve noticeable results, a person can require several sessions.
Treatments to avoid
People should avoid the use of very harsh skin treatments, as these can cause damage to the skin and severe damage to the internal organs.
Some online sources, for instance, suggest using liquid bleach on dark spots. As it can cause painful burns, people should never apply this product to the skin.
Also, when shopping for skin lighteners, it is important to be cautious and to avoid those that contain mercury, which may appear on ingredient lists as:
- hydrargyri oxidum rubrum
The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that mercury-containing skin lightening soaps and creams may lead to:
- kidney damage
- skin rashes
- skin discoloration
- increased risk of bacterial and fungal infections
- mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and psychosis
- peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage)
The mercury in cosmetic products inevitably ends up in the water as well. It finds its way through the food chain here, meaning that individuals will end up consuming fish containing toxic mercury levels.
All cases of dark spots on black skin , especially those that occur due to aging and hormonal changes, may not be preventable.
However, the risk that they will grow can be reduced by:
- wearing sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every day
- reapplying sunscreen every 2 hours and more frequently after swimming or sweating
- avoiding direct sunlight between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
- moisturizing the skin daily
- avoiding using harsh exfoliating products
- treating acne, psoriasis, and other conditions promptly
- seeing a doctor if black spots are the result of the birth control pill or other medications
When to see a dermatologist
People who find their dark spots irritating may want to see a dermatologist, especially if home remedies do not produce satisfactory results.
Those that have skin disorders that cause dark spot growth should also consider making an appointment to discuss treatment options with a dermatologist.
For those with black skin, dark spots are a common concern. They are harmless, but for cosmetic purposes, certain individuals may prefer to treat them.
Home remedies include addressing and using skin lighteners to fix the underlying trigger.
If they do not work, individuals should discuss with a dermatologist the likelihood of laser therapy or other treatments.