Brown spots and wrinkles are skin conditions that no one wants. Often caused by too much sun exposure, brown spots typically appear on the face, arms and legs–parts of the body most frequently exposed to the sun. Too much sunlight causes the body to overproduce the pigment melanin, which turns the skin brown. Wrinkles, while unavoidable due to aging, can be accelerated by sun exposure and reduced by skin treatments.
If you are noticing more brown spots on your skin, the first thing that you should do is reduce or completely avoid sun exposure, according to dermatologists. At the very least, you want to avoid further damage. It is also possible to lighten brown spots with natural bleaching agents. Hydroquinone reduces melanin production, and is available by prescription. Over-the-counter options that are hydroquinone-free contain arbutin, niacinamide (vitamin B3) and kojic acid.
Peel it Off
Chemical peels and exfoliating treatments can be used to lift-off the top layer of dead skin and can serve as a kind of brown spot eraser when effective. Dermatologists use chemical peels that are stronger than at-home products and these can be more effective.
Beam it Up
Lasers are also used to lighten skin and remove spots. Lasers work by heating up the skin to a point where it starts producing more collagen, to help restore the skin and reduce pigmentation.
Sun damage can also cause wrinkles along with discoloration. In addition to increased melanin production, too much sun exposure can also cause the collagen and elastin in skin tissue to decay. This tissue is deeper in the skin and the breakdown can cause wrinkles from a loss of elasticity.
The effect of anti-wrinkle products can depend on the cause of the wrinkles, the active ingredients in the products and the duration of the product’s use. According to the Mayo Clinic, “If you’re looking for a face-lift in a bottle, you probably won’t find it in over-the-counter wrinkle creams. The benefits of these products are usually only modest at best.”
Prescription skin care products with retinoids minimize the appearance of wrinkles, bolster skin’s thickness and elasticity, slow the breakdown of collagen (which helps keep skin firm), and lighten brown spots caused by sun exposure.
An Ounce of Prevention
Of course, the best way to avoid blotchy skin is to avoid the causes of it in the first place. Sun exposure, overuse of harsh bar soaps and fragranced skin products have been linked to skin discoloration, as have intense cardio exercise and red wine (both send blood rushing to the skin).
When to See a Doctor
Discolored skin can also be a symptom of more serious conditions including skin cancer, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, and more. You should see a doctor if the size of spots get larger, if they are causing discomfort or pain, if dry skin is peeling away or is scaled. It is also important to distinguish between brown spots and moles. Moles are discolored spots on the skin that are raised and can become malignant if not treated early.
The skin is your body’s largest organ. It is important to take care of it because it is your primary defense against a host of physical and medical threats. In addition to ensuring your skin is soft and youthful, you’ll also be protecting yourself against mild to serious conditions.