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A Dermatologist’s Guide to Reduce Dark Spots

Are you dealing with hard-to-treat and stubborn dark spots? If your answer is ‘yes,’ this guide is just for you. Dark spots or hyperpigmentation is every woman’s nightmare. There are several remedies for removing acne or improving the texture of your skin. Unfortunately, there are few solutions to eliminate these ugly spots. Skin experts believe that your best defense is prevention, which involves wearing SPF daily to combat the adverse effects of UV rays. But is using sunblock the only way to banish dark spots? We consulted some of today’s top dermatologists, and here is what they have to say.

Three Approaches for Dark Spots

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According to Dr. Crystal Dinopol, there is no one-size-fits-all rule for dealing with dark spots. Instead, this board-certified dermatologist, who also writes for Pay it Forward Fertility Foundation, believes three basic approaches to treating dark spots exist.

  • Ablative Procedures
  • Light/Laser technology procedures
  • Topical Treatment

Dr. Dinopol reveals that topical treatments can be the most common method of treating hyperpigmentation at home. Generally, these treatments include prescription-grade hydroquinone, brightening serums with arbutin, Vitamin C, Niacinamide, and combination creams. Ablative procedures such as Fractional CO2 lasers, micro-needling, and chemical peels physically remove the skin’s damaged layers and repair and renew the skin. However, remember that these treatments can be more painful than other methods and require more downtime. Finally, laser treatments are also effective in treating dark spots and blemishes. These techniques include yellow, alexandrite, picosecond, and ND-YAG. These lasers work by squashing pigment granules located deep inside the skin. That allows your lymphatics and immune system to flush out the pigments in weeks. Dr. Dinopol also reveals that combining these treatments may help address specific skin problems. Nonetheless, sun protection should be your top priority for preventing further sun damage, leading to pigmentation. Let’s review these three approaches in detail.

Topical Treatments

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Dr. Natalie Carlton, a specialist in cosmetic dermatology, believes that before you consider more expensive and in-depth treatments like micro-needling and lasers, try using a few everyday items in your pantry. For example, aloe vera and lemon. Both these ingredients can create the perfect natural recipe to treat dark spots. Let’s find out how to use them to start your hyperpigmentation treatment at home.

Aloe Vera

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Dr. Carlton considers aloe vera an excellent source of antioxidants and powerful cleansing agents. It contains the active component acemannan, which has numerous medicinal properties. It reduces the appearance of sunspots, and you notice quick results within the first few applications. Apply a thin layer of aloe vera daily to reduce black spots. You can get it from the plant or buy packaged aloe vera gel from the pharmacy.

Here is how you can extract fresh aloe vera gel.

  • Take a fully-grown aloe vera plant. Cut two to three thick leaves from the base of the plant.
  • Make sure the leaves are fresh and green in color. Don’t use leaves that have mold or appear yellow.
  • Cut off the prickly edges with the help of a scissor.
  • Slit the leaves along the edges. They should open as a flap.
  • Scoop out the gel using a spoon or a knife and transfer it into an airtight container.

Here is how to apply the gel.

  • Use a mild soap to wash your face and rinse with lukewarm water. Take a soft towel to pat dry your face.
  • Focus on the pigmented areas and apply a thin layer of the fresh or store-bought aloe vera gel.
  • Leave it overnight.
  • Wash your face with lukewarm water the following day.
  • Repeat the process.

Lemon Juice

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Another tested remedy for treating hyperpigmentation is using lemon juice. But remember that lemon juice may lead to dry or irritated skin. So use it sparingly if you think it is drying your skin. Doing a patch test on your elbow is the best way to determine whether you can use lemon on your skin. If you notice any skin irritation or itching, stop using it to treat dark spots. Lemon juice also makes the skin photosensitive. So, you should apply sunscreen before stepping out. If lemon juice suits you, you can use it with coconut oil to reduce skin damage due to pollution or sunlight. Coconut oil has powerful antioxidants which protect the skin from UV radiation and improves its texture. This oil is an excellent natural remedy for moisturizing and hydrating the skin. Take 2 to 3 drops of coconut oil and 2 to 3 drops of lemon juice. Mix them both and apply them to the affected area. Massage it gently and leave the mixture for 20 to 25 minutes. Wipe it off with a soft napkin dipped in warm water, or rinse it with tepid water. Repeat the process once every day.


What is Hydroquinone?

Hydroquinone is a popular component in both prescription and over-the-counter formulations. According to Dr. Carlton, it lightens the skin and is standard for treating dyschromic lesions such as solar lentigines, freckles, chloasma, melasma, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Consult a dermatologist to determine whether hydroquinone is the best option for your skin tone and hyperpigmentation issues before adding it to your skin care regimen. Despite being appropriate for all skin types, using this substance on dry or sensitive skin can lead to skin irritation. People with darker skin tones should also take precautions before using hydroquinone on their skin. That’s because their chance of developing exogenous ochronosis is higher than those with lighter skin tones. Hydroquinone is still possible, but with caution and careful observation.

Final Thoughts

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In the end, skin care is only a matter of personal preference. Your everyday eating or sleeping habits and diet significantly impact what you see in the mirror. So having great skin is not only a question of genetics. However, many ways to protect your skin from harmful UV exposure exist. A board-certified dermatologist can offer a more specialized and targeted skincare program that can help if you cannot find a workable treatment plan at home.


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