Dark spots on the skin, or hyperpigmentation, occur when some areas of the skin produce more melanin than usual. Melanin gives the eyes, skin, and hair their color. This extra melanin can be triggered by a lot of different things including hormonal changes, sun damage, medication side effects, and irritation or injury to the skin.

Dark spots on the skin can range from light brown to dark brown. The color of dark spots may depend on the tone of a person’s skin. The spots are the same texture as the skin and are not painful.

Dark spots on the skin do not require treatment, but some people may want to remove the spots for cosmetic reasons. The best treatment option may depend on the cause, the color of the person’s skin, the size of the dark spot, and the area of the body.

Dr. Monique S. Cohn may recommend one of the following treatments for dark spots on the skin:

1. Hydroquinone

Hydroquinone has been used as a treatment for skin pigmentation problems in the US since the 1950’s. Over the counter hydroquinone products have concentrations at or below 2% while a prescription from a physician is required for 4%. With more stubborn pigmentation a higher percentage is sometimes required to be effective. Hydroquinone works by inhibiting an enzyme called tyrosinase, which aids in the production of melanin. 

In most cases, the effects of hydroquinone can be seen in as little as two weeks. However, most should anticipate 8 to 12 weeks of use to see a visible difference depending on a few factors (such as the extent of the hyperpigmentation, how deeply it penetrates, how long it’s been there, etc.).

2. IPL laser treatments

IPL (Intense Pulse Light) utilize advanced technology that is non-invasive to remove brown spots and sun spots anywhere on the face, hands, legs or elsewhere on the body.

This unique technology works with your skin to remove your imperfections and stimulate collagen and elastic fiber production over a sequence of treatments. Some skin concerns such as shallow pigmentation and age/sun spots can be cleared with as few as 1-2 treatments. Typically, 2-6 sessions with 2-4 weeks in between are needed to achieve optimal results for most skin concerns.

3. Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are topically applied acids that help rejuvenate the skin surface. They create an even and controlled shedding of several layers of skin cells. This allows new layers to be exposed and creates a fresh appearance to the skin surface. In addition, new cells and collagen are stimulated, creating a more even tone.

A mild glycolic or salicylic acid peeling agent is placed on the skin surface, creating a superficial type wound. The depth of the peel is dependent on the concentration and type of acid, the duration of contact, and a person’s skin type and sensitivity.

In most cases, dark spots on the skin are not harmful. But in some instances, it might be hard to tell the difference between a dark spot and other skin changes, such as melanoma, which is a type of skin cancer.

It is important to talk to Dr. Monique S. Cohn if any dark spot on the skin:

  • appears suddenly
  • itches
  • tingles
  • bleeds
  • changes color or size

Learn about how to identify melanoma and other forms of skin cancer here.

People who are unsure what a dark spot is or have not been able to get rid of it should consult with Dr. Monique S. Cohn, DO FAOCDSchedule an appointment online or by calling 330-425-7600.

Dark spots are considered patches of uneven tone commonly found on your face, back of hands, neck, and shoulders, and are usually reddish, brown, or grey in appearance.