Dark skin pigmentation has multiple causes; this pigmentation may result from temporary, treatable skin conditions, or they may be indicative of a serious underlying disease that requires immediate action. Treatment of your pigmentation will depend on its underlying cause. Thus, understanding the possible reasons for your dark spots is the first step to successful diagnosis and treatment.
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Melasma is a skin condition that causes brown pigmentation on areas of the body. The cause of melasma is unknown; however, you may be genetically predisposed to the condition if a family member has it. In addition to the face, melasma is usually found on the forearms, states the American Academy of Dermatology site. Melasma may fade on its own; however, topical ointments that contain hydroquinone, both prescription and non-prescription, can help treat the condition. Similar to all topical ointments, these can cause skin irritation. If you experience any irritation or darkening of the skin, the site recommends you consult your physician.
Your dark spots could result from itchy skin inflammation known as eczema. According to MayoClinic.com, the cause of this long-lasting condition is unknown; however, the site suggests eczema is the result of irritated skin and a problem with your immune system. Allergies and family history or the condition also play a role in contracting eczema. Eczema generally appears on the arms and knees. In addition to red- or gray-colored skin patches, you may also experience cracked, raw or sensitive skin and small red bumps. Your physician may recommend avoiding skin irritants, prescription and non-prescription topical ointments, oral antihistamines and antibiotics.
Age Spots, Freckles and Injury
Age spots, or solar lentigines, are patches of dark pigmentation and can appear on any part of the body. These are the result of sun damage and appear on the areas most exposed to the sun. The spots may also be freckles or birthmarks. These, too, appear on any part of the body and are inherited. In addition, injury can cause darkened skin around the affected area. Age spots, freckles and injury-related hyperpigmentation can darken with sun exposure. Treatments may include skin-lightening creams, laser treatments and chemical peels. Consult your physician about treatment methods.
Your spots can also be indicative of the life-threatening skin cancer called melanoma. Although the exact cause is unknown, MayoClinic.com suggests that genetics and exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight and tanning beds can increase your risk of developing the cancer. Melanoma is marked by darkened spots of the skin and abnormal moles. These may take on a scaly appearance and itch. The pigment on this skin or mole may spread farther into surrounding skin. In addition, if you have an accompanying mole, it may bleed. Treatment depends on the stage of melanoma but can include surgery, chemotherapy and biological therapy, states MayoClinic.com. Consult your physician for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Your dark spots may also result from certain medications you’re taking. According to DailyGlow.com, these medications include certain hormone treatments, antibiotics and anti-seizure medications. Be sure you discuss the side effects of any medications with your physician before starting to use one of these drugs. In addition, because there are so many causes of skin darkening, consult your physician for proper diagnosis and recommended treatments before attempting self-diagnosis and self-treatment.