Some people consider freckles and moles to be beauty marks, but others would rather hide them. Some spots can be covered with makeup, but if you don’t wear it, these spots will show as long as they are there. For any type of skin pigmentation concern you might have, there are ways to manage and reduce it, even if only partially.
Skin spots and patchy discoloration is usually a result of sun damage. When our skin is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, it can cause cellular damage that results in the pigmented spots we find on our faces, hands, and anywhere else on the body. When skin tissue is damaged by the sun, sometimes clusters of pigmented cells don’t get cleared by the natural regeneration process and they remain as small spots like freckles or moles.
Other types of skin damage can result in darker markings, like acne scars and stretch marks. In these cases, darkening is often a result of inflammation or poor healing. When scar tissue is exposed to sunlight during the healing process, it may darken.
Since these marks are going to vary in their size and number, the strategy to reduce them will differ based on the type of mark itself. In general, trying to prevent them from developing in the first place is the best strategy to keeping their numbers down. Wearing an SPF 30+ sunscreen, avoiding direct sunlight when possible, and wearing clothes that cover your skin will all contribute to keeping your skin clear.
A freckle is a benign sun spot that usually doesn’t become cancerous. There are options to reduce freckles if you don’t like the look of them, including laser therapy, pigment reducing topical products, or just using makeup to cover the spots. Laser therapy targets the pigment clusters and focuses heat to break them up, and your body’s immune system then removes the broken-up material.
Topical products that fade freckles use a solution that lightens skin, a retinoid or a gentle acid that destroys the melanin concentration that area. These can be bought over-the-counter, and may be prescribed by a dermatologist for more substantial cases of hyperpigmentation.
Laser therapy is also an option for darkened scarring, and works the same way as it would to treat freckles: by breaking up the concentration of discolored cells. Scars form when damaged tissue has to heal faster than the normal cell reproduction cycle, and dense collagen fibers fill in the broken skin. Sometimes this can result in hyperpigmentation of the area. Laser therapy, chemical peels, and topical lighteners are all potential treatments to reduce these marks.
A mole forms in the same way a freckle does, but rather than a small and shallow discoloration, a mole is generally larger and darker than a freckle, and it has the potential to become cancerous. If you notice a new mole, or one that is changing shape or color, consult a doctor or dermatologist for a skin cancer screening. Mole removal can be done for either medical or cosmetic reasons.
If you have any concerns about pigmented spots on your skin, schedule a consultation with one of our dermatologists today!