In summertime our skin more exposed to solar radiation. In a previous post we saw the effects that the sun’s rays have on your skin, one of these effects is a greater probability of spot formation. However, not all of these are the result of sun exposure, there are different types of spots on the skin, with different origins and different management.
Why are the spots appearing on the skin
The different types of spots can have different origins, the most common causes of their appearance are the following:
Solar radiation causes an increased in melanin production, which can result in the appearance of darker coloured spots on the skin. This is the case of solar lentigines that appear on areas of the skin that have been most exposed to the sun for years, as is usually the case on the face, the back of the hands, neckline or arms.
Another very common type of spot produced by solar radiation are moles and freckles, which tend to appear more frequently in people with very light pigmentation, those who have type I and II phototypes.
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Finally, solar radiation in combination with hormonal action can produce melasmas in the skin of women, especially in the areas of the forehead, cheeks and upper lip .
These types of spots usually present from birth and are a symptom of genetic origin diseases.On the one hand, there are the light brown spots that multiply and grow throughout childhood. This type of spots can be a symptom of von Recklinghausen’s disease, also called neurofibromatosis type 1 .
On the other hand, there would be light brown spots, but whose surrounding tissue has a darker colour. This type of spots is indicative of a pathology known as Legius syndrome that arises with learning problems and hyperactivity .
As we have seen previously, hormonal changes in combination with solar radiation can cause melasma. Hormones are related to the action of some oral contraceptives, which can cause hormonal changes and the consequent appearance of spots on the skin .
For the management of this type of skin spots, it is recommended the use of sunscreens to decrease their appearance and use depigmenting masks to reduce them.
As our skin ages, the probability of blemishes on the skin increases, since the number of melanocytes decreases. Melanocytes in mature skin increase in size and distribution. This makes it possible to produce focused spots of a darker colour.In addition to the passage of time, external factors such as environmental pollution, tobacco smoke, the action of free radicals or excessive sun exposure can cause spots on the skin in a phenomenon known as photoaging and which we discussed extensively in a previous post.
To avoid the appearance of spots on the skin associated with age and photoaging, it is advisable to use sun protection in areas exposed to solar radiation.
Diseases that cause spots on the skin
Rosacea is a dermatological disease that causes reddening of the skin. In this case, there are no localized brown spots on the skin, but rather redness, generally in the facial area, along with the appearance of noticeable pimples and blood vessels .
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The causes of rosacea are unknown, although it has been possible to determine some factors that can trigger its appearance, such as stress, alcohol consumption or an inadequate diet, among others. Factors that we must avoid reducing the probability of the appearance of the signs of this disease.
Like rosacea, vitiligo is a chronic autoimmune disease. Immune cells attack the melanocytes, causing the reduction of melanin in the skin and the consequent appearance of lighter coloured spots .
Similarly to rosacea, the causes of vitiligo are unknown and its diagnosis and treatment must be carried out by a specialized dermatologist.
Scars and acne marks
They are not diseases per se, but the scars usually leave an area of greater pigmentation where the tissue has healed.
In the same way, the marks that occur after an acne breakout or due to inflammation of the skin, also tend to present with areas of darker pigmentation.
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How to avoid skin spots
Throughout this post we have seen how one of the biggest inducers of spots on the skin is solar radiation, so, to avoid the appearance of these, it is advisable to use high sun protection in those areas most exposed to the sun’s rays.
For the management of skin spots, cosmetic and dermatological solutions can be used that reduce the concentration of melanin. This is the case of cosmetic solutions with depigmenting active ingredients or the use of lasers if recommended by a dermatologist.
- Suárez Fernández et al., (2001). Neurofibromatosis. Medicina Integral. Vol. 38. Núm. 2. páginas 64-68.
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