What do I do about my dark spots?

Age spots. Sun spots. Liver spots. They are all the same thing caused by UV exposure and can be difficult to manage but there are things we can do to reduce how they look and prevent further damage. The first thing you need to do is understand what causes spots and how they are formed. UV rays penetrate the skin and stimulate the production of tyrosinase which causes an overproduction of melanin. Melanin likes to clump together and create the brown spots we see. The skin has cellular memory so once that melanin starts clumping together it will continue to do that forever but there are a few things we can do to inhibit the production of tyrosinase.

Melanin is affected by many factors that include heat, UV exposure, and hormones. In the summer people notice that their dark spots bloom in the summer no matter how much sunscreen they apply. This is a combination of heat and unintentional UV exposure.

So here is how to treat them: see a skincare specialist. You cannot DIY dark spot treatment. Unfortunately, you can never reverse damage once it’s done but we can treat how it appears on the skin. The first thing you need to do is use skincare products designed to help with dark spots. This means using an SPF 30+ and a tyrosinase inhibitor DAILY. Make sure your tyrosinase inhibitor contains an ingredient made to be used for an extended period of time. Look for ingredients like Kojic acid, Azelaic acid, Tranexamic acid, quercetin, etc.

Treatment options for dark spots depends on your goals, your Fitzpatrick type, and your skin type. IPL Photofacials, chemical peels, microneedling, and combinations of those three are my favorite treatments for dark spots. These are usually done in series of three but additional treatments might be needed depending on your level of damage and your reasonable goals.

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