Pigment spots are almost a common disease. Most Europeans develop them in the course of their lives. Many of those affected suffer greatly as the brownish skin discolourations are usually clearly visible to others. The causes can be varied, as can the possible treatment strategies. Read this blog article to find out how pigment spots develop and how you can take action against them.
Are pigment spots benign or malignant?
Before any treatment of pigmented changes, I highly recommend showing them to a dermatologist. This is because while moles are “medical” pigmentary changes, freckles, age spots, etc. are purely “cosmetic” changes. In practice, this means that a dermatologist will use a special microscope to examine the pigment change and then inform you exactly as to whether they are medical or cosmetic. The pigment or birthmark check is available for free for anyone covered by insurance on producing their e-card!
What are cosmetic pigment spots?
Pigment spots (also called hyperpigmentation) are light brown to dark brown spots that do not stand out against the skin. When stroking your skin you will thus not feel the pigment spots. Pigment spots can have different shapes and sizes and usually appear on the face, décolletage, and hands.
Types of hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation comes in different types. Here are the most common varieties:
Classic pigment spots include freckles and age spots. These are mostly small and larger brownish spots on the skin. In addition to a genetic predisposition, sun and age are the main reasons for their appearance. IOther than the face, the backs of the hands and forearms are usually affected.
This form of hyperpigmentation is also called a “pregnancy mark”. This is because it often occurs during pregnancy – up to 90% of pregnant women are affected. However, melasma can also occur due to other hormonal changes such as menopause or tbirth control pills.
Melasma usually appears on the face, on the upper lip and the side of the forehead and cheeks and, in contrast to pigment spots, covers a larger area and has a very dark pigmentation. As a rule, they disappear after stopping the pills or following childbirth – but not always completely.
This type of hyperpigmentation occurs as a side effect of injuries or inflammatory skin diseases. People with acne are often awfully familiar with this problem: after healing, discoloured reddish or brownish skin areas remain.
How do pigment spots develop?
Above you have already learned about some forms of pigment spots and their individual causes of development.
The most common cause of pigment spots is unfiltered sunlight. UV radiation activates melanin production in the melanocytes of the skin. Melanin is a pigment that acts as a natural UV protector and provides the characteristic summer tan. Normally, skin cells are evenly supplied with melanin but excessive sun exposure can disrupt this process and melanin removal no longer functions smoothly – resulting in hyperpigmentation and thus the unwanted spots.
With age spots, another pigment called lipofuscin also comes into play. This is also called wear and tear or age pigment. When the pigment accumulates in the skin, it causes pigment and age spots. This accumulation is in turn affected by the impact of UV radiation.
UV light is the main cause of pigment spots. However, their development can also be favoured by hormonal changes or certain medications (such as phenytoin or certain antibiotics). Likewise, various cosmetic ingredients (such as fragrance oils) can make the skin more sensitive to light and thus promote the development of pigment spots.
How can you prevent pigment spots?
Sufficient sun protection is the most important means of prevention not only against wrinkles but also against unwanted age spots. You can choose from various options. Sunscreens with a high sun protection factor is of course indispensable, especially in the summer months. On the other hand, it is a good idea not to expose yourself to direct sunlight too often and for too long, and to protect the skin with clothing, sun hats or scarves.
What helps against pigment spots?
Pigment spots are not a disease which is why they do not necessarily have to be treated from a purely medical point of view. However, many people affected find them quite disturbing from a cosmetic point of view. Many of my patients come to me for advice on how to remove them.
I vsincerely recommend treatment with the Brightening Care cream from my care series. It contains special active ingredients such as Melfade® PF, ViaPure® Licorice White and Azeloglicina®, which are ideal for visibly reducing pigmentation and age spots. In combination with fruit acid, which is often used as a peeling agent against age spots, they have an excellent effect against unwanted hyperpigmentation and also counteract the new production of dark pigment in the skin cells. A pleasant side effect is that the skin’s appearance is additionally rejuvenated and brightened. Like all products from my care series, the cream contains no silicone, kerosenes, parabens, or microplastics.
One thing, above all, is important when treating pigmentation spots: patience! Pigment spots do not appear overnight, so they also need a while until they can be significantly reduced.
From a medical point of view, age spots are no cause for concern. However, those affected usually suffer greatly from them, which is why it is advisable to prevent pigment spots at a young age. The most important thing is adequate prevention through sun protection. Once pigmentation spots have started to show, the Brightening Care cream from my care series provides relief.
Yours, Dr. Sabine Schwarz