Aging, Hyperpigmentation, Melasma, Skin Cancer, Skin Health, Sun Protection/Damage
Shining The Light On What Causes Dark Spots & Blotches
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Hyperpigmentation can be difficult to treat…in part because we keep doing the things and using the stuff that causes it! That all ends now.

As in all things skin, your best bet is an accurate diagnosis from a dermatologist.


Allergens & Irritants

The redness of a rash can evolve into a darkened patch of skin. Avoid known allergens like fragrances and preservatives to prevent reactions in the first place. Some effective lightening actives such as hydroquinone can be too irritating and, in a cruel irony, cause hyperpigmentation after initially lightening it. Prolonged use has been known to cause ochronosis (blue-black plaques which are more difficult to treat).


Hormones & Other Health Conditions

Skin darkening from pregnancy can disappear when postpartum but other hormonal conditions can make skin prone to hyperpigmentation. Diabetes or thyroid and endocrine conditions can show dark patches of skin.


If You Can’t Take The HEAT…

…get out of the kitchen. Or sauna. Heat = infrared light = dark spots. While campfires, fireplaces and saunas can be cozy and relaxing, enjoy them sparingly. And, wear sunscreen (seriously).



These ingredients can react with light to cause skin darkening. Some are chemicals (like azo-dyes or thiruam mix, commonly found in pesticides — so watch it when you golf or prepare salads); some are natural substances (like many plants and garlic), and some are (again with the cruel irony) sunscreen ingredients like benzophenone!



Some medications are known photo-sensitizers (they make skin more sensitive to light and more prone to darkening). There are quite a few, among several categories, from some chemotherapy drugs to neurological and epilepsy medications, anti-depressants, birth control pills and cholesterol statins…even some antihistamines and ibuprofen! Make sure to disclose the medications and vitamins you’re taking to your dermatologist.


Cooking…and Garlic?        

“I’ve treated several cooks with hyperpigmentations on hands and faces. The heat alone can cause darkening but garlic, a common photo-allergen and common cooking ingredient, wafts up towards more exposed skin when cooking, adding to the problem.” – Dr. Verallo-Rowell.



Skin cancer should be enough to keep you out of the sun. If it isn’t, know that sun exposure is the top cause of hyperpigmentations. Especially if you have stubborn dark spots, use sunscreen daily, all year around to protect your skin against UVB (from bright, outdoor sun) and UVA (which can penetrate windows and is present even on cloudy days).


Dermatological Procedures        

Some laser therapy or chemical peels — including those meant to treat dark spots and blotches — can cause hyperpigmentation. If you tend to hyperpigment, choose a dermatologist who is a specialist in hyperpigmentation and phototherapies.


Acnegens and Comedogens        

Ingredients that cause acne don’t cause darkening per se but, as in the case of rashes, pimples can lead to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (dark scars in the shape of a previous skin trauma).


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