5 Facts on How to Remove Dark Spots on Face

Asian woman with dark spots on face

If you have been browsing online about dark spots and how to get rid of them, then you might notice that common over the counter medications for this skin problem is almost very similar to other pigmentation problems. These conditions, however, are not the same.

To give you more understanding about dark spots on the face, what they are, how they are different, and how to remove them, here are 5 fast facts about dark spots to kick off your dark spot removal journey.

Dark spots on face are caused by increased pigmentation on the inflammation site.

Asian woman with dark spots on face

Dark spots develop when inflammation in the skin results in increased pigmentation in either the top layer of the skin, the epidermis or the deeper layer of the skin, the dermis and sometimes can develop in both layers. As OneFaceClinic a pigmentation treatment clinic in Singapore has spilt it, such inflammations can be in the form of:

  • acne scarring
  • rash marks
  • allergies
  • medication side-effects
  • injury to the skin
  • irritations from cosmetic products
  • skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis

This is why dark spots on the face are usually termed as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Unlike other pigmentation types, dark spots are typically localised to the area of the healed or ongoing inflammation. Dark spots also tend to be more prevalent and more noticeable in individuals of darker skin types.

Topical creams are effective in improving the brightness of your skin.

Woman applying Skin cream

Some topical creams can be quite effective so if you’re wondering how to remove dark spots face, don’t disregard them completely. They work inhibiting the enzyme responsible for making the pigment in our skin. Globally, hydroquinone is probably the mainstay ingredient and safest in removing dark spots and have been used for many years. Hydroquinone creams can be bought over-the-counter and can be used two times a day for a period of 3-4 months. For severe dark spot concerns, higher concentrations of hydroquinone are available but require a prescription from your dermatologist.

The downside of hydroquinone:

  • can cause skin irritation if used excessively
  • prolonged use associated with pseudo-ochronosis (permanent discolouration)
  • not suitable for pregnant women or women planning to get pregnant

Topical creams for removing dark spots can also contain one or more of these components:

  • Retinol

Inhibits the enzyme for skin pigment production and naturally helps the turnover of skin cells.

  • Steroids

Also inhibits the enzyme that causes skin discolouration and mainly helps in suppressing the inflammation in the skin.

  • Azelaic acid

A type of dicarboxylic acid that can reduce inflammation.

  • Niacinamide

Probably one of the cheapest ingredients and gives a brightening effect on the face. It can be found in most moisturisers.

  • Vitamin C

Usually available in serum form, an antioxidant that helps in lightening discolouration. However, Vitamin C can be very unstable so dermatologists do not encourage the use of this ingredient.

Do bear in mind that topical creams have can be irritating and can worsen the dark spots on your face. As a tip, it’s ok to try them out but if you find them too irritating, it’s probably not a good idea to continue using them.

Sun protection plays a critical role in the development and treatment of dark spots.

Ever wonder why every dermatologist you meet will always tell you to have a rigorous sunscreen regimen every day? This is because exposure to UV rays not only damages the skin but also causes inflammation and persistence of constant irritation in the skin layers resulting in worsening of dark spots.

For the most part, dark spots tend to improve and even go away with time and sun protection. Sunscreens are specially formulated to protect the skin from Ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. In addition to UVB light, studies have reported that at a certain extent, visible light and Ultraviolet A (UVA) can also cause discolouration of the skin. There are sunscreens available in the market that contain:

  • iron oxide
  • zinc
  • titanium dioxide

They can really do a great good job of blocking UVB, UVA radiation from the sun, as well as visible light.

Next to sun exposure, skin irritation is your number one enemy in removing dark spots.

To prevent further discolouration, it is important to identify the factors that cause or worsen dark spots before trying any form of remedies on the affected area. In fact, you must deliberately avoid treatment products that contain irritants that cause inflammation on your face. These irritants can be in the form of irritating fragrances, abrasive scrubs, harsh peeling agents, and occlusive cosmetics among others.

Clinical procedures for dark spots removal require a skilled doctor.

picosecond laser for pigmentation

In aesthetic clinics, there are available cosmetic procedures that have shown variable to marginal success rates in improving dark spots such as:

  • chemical peels
  • lasers
  • light treatments
  • surgical procedures

It is important to note if you opt for these procedures, make sure that the person doing your procedure is trained and experienced with the procedures as these procedures offer the risk of further irritating the skin significantly and causing or worsening more dark spots and pigmentation if poorly done.

The dark spots do not go away overnight.

There’s isn’t really a solution to dark spots that can work like magic and erase them all in a single wave of a wand. To put it simply, there is really nothing you remove them overnight. Dark spots removal takes time and the duration of treatment is greatly influenced by:

  • size of the dark spots
  • location of the treatment area
  • the severity of the discolouration

Dark spots on the outer layer of the skin can quickly go away compared to those located deeper down the skin layers. One indicator of deep-seated dark spots is a bluish tinge on the affected area. Depending on the complexity of the condition, it is usually a journey of 3-6 months before you can see improvements.