Brown Spots on Skin, Causes, Treatment, Prevention

brown spots on skin

Blemishes on our skin often look like brown spots or freckles. These brown spots on skin can be associated with aging. Or else, it can be due to continual exposure to sun rays. The color of these spots goes from red to brown. They can be located on parts where sun exposure remains the highest. The areas may include face, shoulders, hands or even forehead.

They may be physiologically different from liver spots. Due to striking similarity in color, they are mistaken as liver spots. Women over 40 should be more cautious. It is during this time that the skin starts to wrinkle due to over-exposure to the sun. The skin also loses its regenerating ability. So, brown spots become a common occurrence at this age.

In an overwhelming percentage of cases, the spots are harmless. They rarely pose any kind of serious threat in a benign condition. But, they’re often considered unsightly. People choose to remove them using laser treatment or by using de-pigmentation agents like tretinoin or alpha hydroxy acid.

Dark spot symptoms

Brown spots on skin aren’t an uncommon scene. More commonly called hyper-pigmentation, their causes may actually vary. They can be rampant in middle-aged people. Such spots can be associated with serious skin conditions. They can even be the after-effect of certain medications.

Brown spots on palms and faces are generally harmless. But, at times, they could be cancerous. Folks often choose to lighten such spots. Or else, they even desire to get rid of them entirely.

The broad symptoms might include:

  • A sudden occurrence on the faces.
  • Freckle-like appearances
  • The backs of our hands getting affected.
  • An unusual spread on one’s arms
  • The visibility of freckles on our backs.

That being said, the color goes darker with the passage of time. The shapes may range from oval to flat.

Causes of brown spots on skin

Exposure to UV rays: Be it from sunlight or from any artificial source, UV rays are grossly harmful to our skin. People come in contact with UV rays on tanning beds also. This kind of skin pigmentation starts to show up if people ignore sunscreen lotions. Protective measures like sunscreen become imperative. Those with light skin-color should be more careful. They get more severe sunburns. The risks of having brown spots are higher in them.

1. Skin conditions- There are various skin conditions that may cause related dark spots on the skin. Causes include:

2. Post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation- Skin discoloration that follows lesions are a common scene. These lesions remain highly inflammatory. They oft appear like acne.

3. Melasma- This is a kind of pregnancy mark & can give way to brown spots on skin.

4. Chloasma- In this case, the skin starts to darken due to hormonal imbalances.

5. Poikiloderma- It is a benign condition owing to which parts of the neck start browning.

6. Erythromelanosis- This very condition is often characterized by the pigmentation of the neck & face.

7. Medications- Even medication makes our skin ultra-photosensitive. The medications might include:

  • Estrogen
  • Broad-spectrum antibiotics like Minocin, Adoxa, and Declomycin.
  • Medications that are used to treat fast beating of the heart; brand names could include Cordarone & Pacerone
  • Certain medications are used to treat emotional disorders. Even they cause freckles on the skin.
  • Certain medications are given to treat infections. Even they cause dark spots on the skin.

8. Other causes- Pregnancy, Addison’s disease, and pituitary tumors also cause freckles on our skin. If you ever feel a sudden occurrence of dark spots on skin, you can contact an expert medical practitioner.

Age spots on skin

Now, the pertinent question is – what are age spots really? They are flat brown spots spread throughout the length of the skin. These, very often, show up on the sun-exposed areas. They may or may not be caused because of liver problems.

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Age spots may result from excessive melanin-production. Even medical practitioners cannot always identify the causes of age-spots. But, the bright side is, they are found to be harmless or benign more often than not.

Who all are at risk?

People of all ages could be at risk. But, people over the age of 40 develop such spots every now & then. At times, women have a lighter skin color. They develop freckles more often. People with a history of sunrays also develop dark spots. Frequent use of tanning beds can give rise to brown spots on skin.

Diagnosis of age spots

A healthcare provider usually diagnoses the spots. This can be done through a thorough examination. If dark spots are giving you sleepless nights, you might opt for a biopsy. In this procedure, the medical expert will remove a small patch of your skin. Then, he/she will check it thoroughly for abnormalities like cancerous outgrowth or other skin diseases.

Treatment of age spots or freckles

Brown spots do not always hurt. They do have a common texture & can be identified without much ado. Most of them never pose risks. You do not really have to get rid of them. But, many people want them removed because of cosmetic purposes. Brown spots can easily be lightened and the procedure is hassle-free.

Prescribed drugs, home remedies & medical procedures remain helpful in removing them.

Jotted below are ways how you can get age spots wiped off:

1. Topical treatment

Often, bleaching creams reduce the appearance of freckles on the skin. Using prescribed creams over a period of time causes a remarkable reduction in freckles. Hydroquinone remains an active ingredient in the removal of age-spots. This very ingredient has the ability to inhibit the excess production of melanin. But, prolonged use of these creams might be very harmful. The safety factor of bleaching creams is often questioned. Some studies have found out carcinogens in bleaching creams. The concentration of hydroquinone in bleaching creams should not go above 3%. Also, a number of over-the-counter products treat age spots. They diminish their appearance with time. But, they aren’t able to wipe them off entirely.

2. Cosmetic products

Medical procedures treat brown spots on skin. Topical treatment might not be suitable for all. They could even cause harm to sensitive skin-type. So, how can medical procedures help in skin-lightening?

3. Laser treatment

Here, concentrated light is used to remove layers of the skin. But there are certain risk factors that may bother you at large. Risks include swelling, bruising, scarring or even skin infections. Because layers of skin are burnt off, a tingling sensation persists for long. This might even cause a change in the skin’s texture.

4. Chemical peels

The chemical peels usually contain glycolic acid & salicylic acid. In this kind of treatment, the topmost layer of the skin gets wiped off. This reveals a layer that is healthier, brighter and very evenly toned. But, a certain amount of skin irritation persists for a while.

5. Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion may be divided into two broad categories. Both these kinds erode our skin physically. In crystal microdermabrasion, fine crystals are emitted through a stick. The stick is rubbed gently against our skin-surface. This, in turn, scraps scarred cells away. The skin beneath may appears pinkish for some time. But, this is one technique where risks remain lower. Then, there is a diamond-tipped microdermabrasion. In this procedure, the coarse end of the stick is rubbed. This removes brown spots on skin.

6. Cryosurgery

This procedure lightens age spots by freezing them. The procedure uses liquid nitrogen at large. It causes darkened skin to fade away. In this case, risks may include permanent lightening of affected areas.

7. Home treatments

Certain home remedies like aloe gel might work magically on age spots. Natural products like turmeric extracts and fuller earth are also preferred by many to chemical treatments. These home remedies never have side-effects. On the flip side, their effectiveness has not been proven. Speak to your dermatologist at length. He/she may guide you much better. Creams of good brands often conceal blemishes. They even rejuvenate our skin thus making us look younger and brighter.

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With the aging process, brown spots on skin are inevitable. But, there are ways how we can hinder them from getting darker.

1. Use sunscreen

Be very diligent about the application of sunscreen. Also, re-apply sunscreen, if the need be.

2. Cover up well

When outdoor, try wearing full-sleeved clothes. Wear hats to shield your faces against harsh sunlight. Also, wear a scarf, if needed. Avoid getting out during peak hours of sunlight. These preventive measures can save you from a thousand skin disorders.

3. Dark spots on legs

Are you suffering from dark spots on legs? You’re not one among millions to be a sufferer. Excessive melanin production is the cause of dark spots on legs. Reasons for dark spots on legs:

4. Diabetes mellitus

Folks suffering from diabetes mellitus develop a certain amount of insulin resistance. This very condition prevents our bodies from using insulin properly. Excessive insulin often concentrates on the bloodstream. They may give rise to darker bands on the legs.

5. Melanoma

This is actually a cancerous skin condition. In females, legs are amongst the affected areas. Melanoma has various forms, to say the least. Consult a trusted dermatologist to know more about melanoma or related skin conditions.

How to prevent dark bands on legs?

With the use of aloe extracts, the dark bands on legs often get lightened. It is not very evident, though. Studies and research works have found out certain proofs to back the proposition. Even sunburn on the legs can be effectively treated with aloe gels. Alternatively, one can use lotions to get rid of dark bands on our legs.

Liver spots

It is not very unlikely that you develop liver spots. With proper care, you can lighten the blemishes or even get rid of them.

First, it is utter important to diagnose the problem. Then, you need to take concrete steps to wipe them off.

The coloration may be due to aging or other medical conditions. Liver spots are more common in older women. Liver spots become more visible on parts that are sun-exposed.

Skin clean-up can lighten such spots to an extent. One cannot expect miraculous results overnight. But, spots definitely lessen with proper care.

How do you know if liver spots are cancerous?

  • Keratoses- Seborrheic is heart-like projections on the skin. It could be a precursor to cancerous outgrowth.
  • Skin tag- It’s an outward growth that is irregular and flesh-colored. They hang like tags from the skin. They are generally harmless and benign.
  • Squamous Carcinoma- They start forming layers on the skin surface. They can be easily linked with the aging process. They are more like reddened nodules. In certain cases, they might even be cancerous.
  • Basal cell carcinoma- This is a common type of skin cancer and can be treated if diagnosed early on. Basal carcinoma does not usually spread to other regions of the body. They appear on the chest, nose & neck. Folks must follow a healthy, safe and hygienic skincare regimen to keep skin disorders at bay. Also, treatment becomes necessary before any further spread.

Cherry Hemangioma

These are raised brown spots on skin. But, the color may vary from cherry-red to brown. They are mostly benign and contain concentrated blood capillaries. They aren’t really related to cancers. The condition intensifies with the aging process. This starts to occur to people above the age of 30.


Raised brown spots are a cluster of blood capillaries on the exposed part of the skin. They form dome-like appearances and remain very easy to recognize. The color turns purple in severe cases. The diameter is never more than a tenth of a millimeter.

Because blood cells concentrate around raised spots they start to bleed on getting injured. The capillaries are fenestrated and get stained due to carbonic activities.

The underlying causes of these raised spots are still unidentified. They could just be vascular growths.


Usually, these kinds of projections are not harmful, at all. They do not need treatment or care that often. Also, it is never easy to get them wiped off for cosmetic reasons.

Final thoughts

Visit a good dermatologist twice every year. It is the best way how you can treat age-related spots. There is often no reason to worry about dark spots. But, rarely could they be a form of cancer. When followed by redness and itchiness, they could be cancerous. If anything abnormal is suspected, the dermatologist can perform a biopsy to know the cause of these projections.

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