Dark Spots

M.D. Claiborne & Associates, L.L.C. - Dermatology Specialists

There are many potential causes of dark spots (hyperpigmentation) on the skin. These range from the dreaded melanoma (a type of skin cancer) to hormonal conditions (melasma) to inflammatory conditions (such as acne). In terms of prevention of all types of dark spots, a quality physical sunscreen (that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide) of at least SPF 30 is key.

Often referred to as the “mask of pregnancy,” melasma is an estrogen derived disorder of hyperpigmentation affecting sun-exposed areas of the face. It is largely a female disorder and can present following birth control use. Treatment of melasma includes sun protection, prescription strength Vitamin A derivatives, low potency steroids, and prescription strength bleaching creams. Low potency steroids are added on occasion. For more stubborn disease, chemical peels, microdermabrasion and/or laser treatments can be added.

For hyperpigmentation due to acne, the key in treatment is to treat the underlying acne first to prevent any new spots from forming. This may include topical and/or oral antibiotics or vitamin A derivatives. Chemical peels, laser resurfacing, and bleaching creams can be added for more resistant cases.

Less commonly, skin cancers such as melanomas or pigmented basal cells can present as a dark spot. Dr. Claiborne utilizes dermoscopy, the latest technique in dermatology, to best identify dark spots on the skin and prevent unnecessary biopsies for optimal cosmetic outcomes.