Dark spots or Hyperpigmentation will occur from different reasons. There could be dark spots from sun exposure, called as sun spots or Lentigines, there could be dark spots from Oral contraceptives or hormonal imbalance or due to pregnancy called Melasma, etc. Different types of dark spots will need different kinds of care, says Dr. Poorva Shah, Medical and Aesthetic Dermatologist. Hence, before an attempt is made to fade away dark spots or hyperpigmentation, an accurate diagnosis is most essential.
If you have dark spots left behind from pimples, called Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation or PIH, then here’s what can be done to help them fade away.
1. Use a Sunscreen- Dark spots will continue to darken with even a small amount of sun exposure daily. Hence to at least prevent them from darkening, using a sunscreen will be imperative. You may also use added sun protection such as a wide brimmed hat or an umbrella.
2. Exfoliating agents- Exfoliation is a great way to reveal new and even skin underneath the top layer of dead skin cells. But beware of physical exfoliation especially if you have pigmentation. It could worsen the pigmentation. Chemical exfoliation on the other hand will work to take off the dead cells and also take off the melanin heavy layer over the pigmentation to reveal a more even skin tone. Glycolic acid, Azelic acid, Lactic acid and retinol are excellent chemical exfoliators and are available in different strengths, combinations and formulations. Speak to your dermatologist to know which is best suited to your skin.
3. Depigmenting creams and serums- Many great depigmenting agents are available in the form of creams and serums. These break down the pigment and prevent more melanin formation. Agents like Arbutin, Kojic acid, licorice extract and Niacinamide break down pigmentation apart from also having different individual added actions of their own.
4. Vitamin C- Primarily being an antioxidant, it helps in reducing excessive melanin synthesis by limiting the free reduced damage, real time, when applied to the skin. Prolonged use of topical Vitamin C can help in fading away dark spots. Oral Vitamin C is another way of lightening the skin and the dark spots.
5. Glutathione- Another powerful antioxidant when consumed orally is capable of reducing free radical damage to the skin and hence fading away dark spots.
6. Professional treatments- Especially Q switched Laser treatment is the best, safest and quickest way of fading away dark spots. Laser is the most advanced technology available today that can break down pigmentation completely without damaging the surrounding or overlying skin. It is also free of any side effects if performed by a qualified dermatologist using a good US FDA approved machine. It can fade away spots quickly and almost completely without any downtime making it an efficient and sophisticated mode of treatment. Chemical peels can also help to reduce dark spots. Your dermatologist will be the best person to recommend which professional treatment would be best for you.
It is important to note that one or more different types of pigmentation can co-exist on the skin. Also, one or more treatments may be needed to fade away each or different types of pigmentation. Hence, to identify and diagnose the exact type of pigmentation, it would be important to consult your dermatologist and also discuss the best individualized treatment plan.