Dark Spots, Brown Patches, Acne Scars and Blemishes
Of all the skin disorders that affect darker skin, black skin and other brown-skinned people of color, hyperpigmentation, especially dark spots, is the chief complaint. It can be the aftermath of skin problems, hormones, medications, and medical conditions and many other factors, including acne and minor “skin insults” that lead to skin discoloration.
Dark patches caused by hormonal changes on the cheeks, forehead and upper lip, can be caused by slight hormone imbalance, birth control pills and hormone devices (melasma), pregnancy (chloasma), weight gain, obesity, photo-sensitizing medications, and sun exposure. Because it’s often driven by family history, hormones, sun, and skin tone, it can be stubborn and difficult to treat. It’s often exacerbated by friction, heat sources, sun exposure, and sunscreen under-use. The various methods used to treat melasma, including exfoliants and retinoids, aggressive peels, microdermabrasion, IPL, lasers, and sonic brushes, can actually worsen it.
Pigmentation is the coloring of a person’s skin. When a person is healthy, his or her skin color will appear normal. In the case of illness or injury, the person’s skin may change color, becoming darker (hyperpigmentation) or lighter (hypopigmentation).
Dark spots (PIH) are the aftermath of skin disorders, injury, inflammation, and other “insults” to the skin. The causes of trauma to the skin include acne, deep ingrown hairs, picking, scratching, skin tampering, chicken pox, shingles, skin infections, insect bites, cold sores, surgical procedures, burns, severe and minor injuries, lasers, IPL, microdermabrasion and other causes discussed below.
Acne scars on darker skin tones are often just blemishes or dark spots (PIH) that eventually fade if the acne is kept under control, which halts the cause of the spots. Because they don’t always permanently damage the surface planes of the skin, many of these marks aren’t considered true scars. Still, they can be cosmetically and emotionally devastating.
Dark Scar Tissue
Scars occur when the deeper dermal layer is damaged. Most are flat, similar to dark spots, and leave only a trace of the original injury. The worse the initial damage, the worse the scar will generally be down the road. Made of fibrous tissue, scars replace normal skin after injury and/or prolonged inflammation. It’s the same protein (collagen) as the skin it replaces, but the composition is very different. And with black skin and other ethnic skin, scarring will often heal darker than the surrounding skin. Scars can also become raised (hypertrophic scars) or grow outside of the original injury site (keloids). Or, they form a sunken recess with a pitted appearance (atrophic scars), the scarring usually associated with acne. Addressing dark scars is similar to protocols used to treat dark spots, but clinic treatments may be different and additional products may be necessary.
Schedule a skincare consultation today for help with dark spots.