Dark spots can appear on the skin after shaving for a number of reasons, including skin irritation, a buildup of dead skin cells and the appearance of sub-surface hair. If the spots occur immediately after shaving, there are several home treatments that can help reduce and eliminate them. If the spots are light black to brown and are on the neck, under the arms or in the groin, it could be due to a medical condition called acanthosis nigricans, which results from high levels of insulin.
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Exfoliate regularly. A build up of skin cells in the areas you shave can cause skin discoloration, which may be the cause of your dark spots. Choose a physical exfoliator, such as a salt or sugar body scrub, which physically buff away dead skin or opt for a chemical exfoliator, which contain glycolic, salicylic, lactic or malic acids to loosen and remove dead cells.
Lighten the spots by applying hydroquinone cream, a lightening agent, to the area after shaving. Over-the-counter creams contain 2 percent hydroquinone and take from 8 to 12 weeks to work. Prescription creams have at least 4 percent hydroquinone and fade dark spots in 4 to 8 weeks. Hydroquinone is a drug so it should be used with caution and as advised by your doctor. Lemon juice is a natural alternative, and it has the added benefit of exfoliating the skin while lightening discoloration.
Choose an alternative method of hair removal. If you are prone to dark spots after shaving, you may want to try waxing or depilatory creams instead, which may cause less irritation. If the dark spots you are seeing are a result of sub-surface hair, waxing, which removes hair at the root, may be your best option.
Prepare your skin before shaving by placing a warm towel over the skin for a few minutes prior to shaving to soften the hairs. Softening the hair before shaving will result in less irritation.
Moisturize after showering, bathing or shaving. Using a moisturizer daily keeps skin healthy and free from problems such as dark spots. Moist skin also has a sheen that helps conceal blemishes.
Visit your doctor or dermatologist if home treatment doesn't work. She can prescribe a topical steroid cream or other medication that can help get rid of the spots or determine whether your spots are caused by a more serious condition.