Hyperpigmentation from age spots, skin injuries, such as burns or cuts, or melasma can leave unsightly dark blotches and spots on your skin. Fading these spots may require weeks or months of treatment, and some dark spots never go away completely. Treating areas with dark pigmentation early increases the chance that the marks will fade considerably with treatment. Talk to your doctor or dermatologist about any concerns you have about your skin to help determine the treatment method best for your condition.
Bleaching creams that contain hydroquinone prevent the formation of excess melanin, which contributes to areas of dark pigmentation. Hydroquinone creams are available over the counter and in prescription strength. Do not use hydroquinone for longer than three months. If the treatment is effective, you can expect to start seeing results after four weeks, according to the New Zealand Dermatological Society. Hydroquinone can cause skin irritation, burning, stinging and redness in some individuals. Stop using the cream if you experience severe irritation or swelling.
Corticosteroid creams that contain ingredients, such as hydrocortisone, can help fade areas of dark pigmentation and reduce the chance of skin irritation associated with other topical treatments. Topical steroid creams come in many strengths, and your dermatologist will prescribe the strength best suited for your pigmentation problems. Apply these creams exactly as directed and do not stop using them suddenly to prevent illness, cautions the New Zealand Dermatological Society.
Tretinoin creams contain prescription-strength retinoids that can help fade areas of dark pigmentation. It may take up to six weeks to see results from the use of topical retinoids, and they often cause mild irritation, redness and stinging during the first weeks of treatment. Do not use other topical products at the same time, unless directed to do so by your doctor. Tretinoin is not safe for pregnant women.
Dermabrasion treatments can help fade areas of dark pigmentation by removing the top layers of skin with a medical sanding tool. Redness and scabbing in the treated area is common during the first weeks after treatment, and you may need several treatment sessions to achieve your desired results. Your dermatologist can help you decide if dermabrasion is right for you.
Laser treatments destroy the cells that create dark pigmentation while leaving your skin's surface unharmed. It is usually necessary to undergo several laser treatments, particularly for old areas of hyperpigmentation, and the treatments are often expensive. Dark spots fade gradually over several weeks following a laser treatment session.
Amanda Knaebel is a self-professed gadget geek and loves all things tech, both new and old. Amanda has been working as a freelance writer for over 10 years on topics including technology, health, fitness, nutrition, gardening and many more. She has also worked with Fortune 50 tech and financial companies, both in technical support and content production.