Skin spots are a very common problem in most people today. Causes of this problem include many different factors such as birthmarks, pigmentation disorders, rashes, and infections. Some causes are harmless, but others require medical attention.
Skin contains melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. Having more melanin makes the skin darker, while less melanin causes lighter spots on the skin. Melanin is also responsible for hair and eye color.
Since skin spots differ from a person's normal skin tone, they can be easily noticed. They can be of a different color such as light, dark, red, gray or blue.
It is important for people with this symptom to understand the reason of these spots when treatment is required. This article explores various causes of skin spots and explains which ones require treatment.
What causes skin spots?
- Skin pigmentation disorders
- Skin rashes
- Skin infections
- Skin cancers
- Medical conditions
- We will have a look at each of these in more detail below.
Birthmarks are the discolorations that people have when they are born. Some types of birthmarks will fade over time, while others may be permanent.
Birthmarks are vascular or pigmented. Vascular birthmarks are red and are caused by abnormal blood vessels in the skin. Types of vascular birthmarks include: Strawberry nevus: It is also called hemangioma and a common vascular birthmark.
It appears as a red spot and is most common on the face, scalp, chest, and back. Strawberry nevus usually does not require treatment.
Salmon spot: This flat red or pink skin spot, also called nevus simplex, typically appears on the neck or forehead. Birthmarks of all babies cover this type of scar by 40 percent.
Port wine stain: This is a noticeable flat, red or purple birthmark. Some port wine stains may require treatment that includes laser therapy or cosmetic camouflage. Pigmented birthmarks are usually white, brown, blue or gray.
They are caused by a problem related to melanin in the skin. Types of pigmented birthmarks include: Mongolian blue spots: These are blue or gray spots that can be found on the back and buttocks at birth. Babies with dark skin color are more likely to have these birthmarks.
Mongolian blue spots often disappear as the child grows older. Moles: These are black or brown spots that are usually harmless. However, it is best to see a doctor if a mole changes in shape, size or texture.
Café-au-lait spot: These are brown skin spots that appear on fair skin. It is seen as black brown color spots on dark skin. Café-au-lait spots are usually oval in shape and may disappear as the child grows up.
Skin pigmentation disorders
If a person has lighter or darker skin spots, this may indicate a skin pigmentation disorder. The type of skin pigmentation disorder includes: Melasma: This is a common skin condition that usually affects the skin of the face and causes brown spots. It affects women more often than men.
Melasma can be triggered by sun exposure and hormonal changes. Vitiligo: This disease can affect any part of the body. It causes melanin-producing cells known as melanocytes to stop working properly, resulting in lighter skin stains.
Sometimes, it also changes a person's hair color. The exact cause of vitiligo is unknown, but a problem with the immune system is thought to be responsible for this spot. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation:
This is a temporary increase or decrease in skin pigment following skin trauma such as blisters or burns.
Albinism: People with albinism do not produce enough melanin. This results in little or no pigment in the skin, hair or eyes. Albinism is a genetic disorder, meaning that a person has inherited a faulty gene from one or both of their parents.
Some skin rashes can also cause skin spots. There are as follow: Rosacea: This is a chronic skin condition that can cause increased spots of red skin and pus-filled lesions. It usually affects the forehead, cheeks and nose. Psoriasis: This is a skin condition that causes silvery-red, crusty, scaly stains that can appear anywhere on the body. Doctors believe that psoriasis may be caused by a problem in the immune system. Contact dermatitis: This rash occurs when the skin reacts to an irritant or allergen. Eczema: Also known as atopic dermatitis, this condition can cause red skin spots that are itchy, dry, and cracked. These patches can sometimes ooze and then form a crust. The cause of eczema is unclear, but it is thought to be genetically inherited. It is more common in people with asthma, hay fever, and other allergies.
Some skin infections can also cause discoloration, such as: Tinea versicolor: This is a fungal skin infection that can cause skin spots to become lighter or darker. These spots usually develop slowly and can sometimes combine to form larger spots. Tinea versicolor tends to affect the trunk, neck, and upper arms. Fungus: Also known as tinea, this is a fungal skin infection that causes red or silver ring-shaped skin spots. These spots can be scaly, dry, or itchy. It can be seen on many parts of the body, including the scalp, groin, feet, hands, and nails. Candidiasis of the skin: This is a fungal skin infection causing red, itchy skin spots. It is usually seen in areas where the skin is folded, such as the armpits and groin.
In rare cases, skin cancer can cause discoloration. Types of skin cancer include: Actinic keratosis: These are dry, scaly, precancerous skin spots. If left untreated, they can progress to squamous cell carcinoma. Basal cell carcinoma: These are flesh-coloured, pearl-like, pink skin spots or bumps. Basal cell carcinomas are the most common form of skin cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma: These are red bumps, sores, or scaly scars that can heal and then reopen. Squamous cell carcinomas are the second most common type of skin cancer. Melanoma: This cancer can develop in existing moles or appear as new dark spots. Melanomas are the most severe form of skin cancer and early diagnosis and prompt treatment are essential.
Certain medical conditions can cause skin scars, including: Cyanosis: Insufficient oxygen in the blood can cause the skin and lips to appear blue or purple. Sudden onset of cyanosis can be a sign of a problem with the heart, lungs, or airways. This is a medical emergency, and anyone in this situation should seek immediate medical attention. Lupus: This is a complex autoimmune condition that can cause a butterfly-shaped rash on the cheeks. Undiagnosed or untreated diabetes can cause skin changes, such as:
- Yellow, reddish or brown skin scars
- Dark, velvety scars on the skin
- Thick, hard skin scars
- Shin spots
- If the scars appear suddenly and then disappear, there may be a simple explanation.
- Causes of temporary spots or red skin spots include:
- Causes of temporary spots of a pale skin are:
- Low blood sugar
- Cold weather conditions
When to see a doctor
If a new skin scar appears and does not disappear, it is the best to see a doctor. It is also extremely important to seek medical attention if a mole changes its size, shape or texture.
To diagnose skin spots, a doctor may ask these questions to the person: Pre-existing medical conditions When and how long scar appears on the skin Whether the scar on skin has changed since it first appeared Symptoms as a result of spot The doctor can examine the affected skin under a lamp. They may also need to do other tests, such as blood tests and a skin biopsy. A skin biopsy will involve taking a small skin sample and examining it under a microscope.
Scar Treatment Methods
Skin spot treatment may vary depending on many reasons. If a person has an underlying health condition, the doctor will recommend the best treatment for that condition. Treating the underlying condition often resolves associated skin problems. If skin cancer is the underlying cause, it is vital that the person is treated as soon as possible. Birthmarks and skin pigmentation disorders usually do not require treatment. However, some people may want to seek treatment for cosmetic reasons. Treatment options include laser therapy, chemical peels, and topical creams. Lemon juice or castor oil can also help reduce the appearance of discoloured skin spots. Alternatively, people can use makeup to camouflage the affected skin. However, treatment methods especially used in spot treatment are as follows; Chemical peeling method: Specially developed chemical solutions are used in chemical peeling method. The most commonly used chemical solution for spot treatment is fruit acids called glycolic acid. This treatment can be applied on skin with mild spots. Applications can be done as 4-6 sessions at the interval of 2-4 weeks. Enzyme peeling (spot mask): Enzyme peeling is a special peeling method that has been used in the treatment of spots in recent years. A special mixture of mask is applied to the skin and left for 8-10 hours. At the end of this period, the mask is removed with warm water and a special follow-up cream is applied for 4-6 months. Mesotherapy: Spots can be treated by injecting mixtures of special spot removal drugs under the skin. This treatment method can be combined with chemical or enzyme peeling treatments or laser treatments. Laser treatments: Different lasers can be used in spot treatment. Fractional lasers that peel the top layer of the skin, Q-switched lasers targeting the color cell, and IPL devices with concentrated light sources are the most commonly used light systems. Laser applications are made according to the tone and extent of the spot. Lightening creams: Creams can be used alone or in conjunction with the procedures listed above for spot treatment. Creams containing hydroquinone, vitamin C, arbutin, kojic acid and glycolic acid are most commonly used in the treatment of spots. Creams containing retinol can be used as an aid in spot treatment and it also peels the skin. Sunscreen creams: Sunscreen creams should definitely be used during spot treatment. These creams protect the skin from the effects of the sun in the winter months and prevent dark spots.
- It is not possible to prevent all causes of discoloured skin spots.
- However, sun protection can reduce the risk of melasma, sunburn, and skin cancer. People can protect themselves from the sun by:
- Using sunscreen
- Avoiding the midday sun
- Covering the body with loose clothing
As mentioned above, there are many possible causes of skin spots. Some causes, such as birthmarks, are not harmful and may not require treatment. Others, such as skin cancer and cyanosis, are likely to require immediate treatment. If new discoloured skin spots appear or existing moles change in any way, it is necessary to see a doctor. This enables early diagnosis and treatment, which usually leads to a better appearance.