What to Do About Brown Spots on Face
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Brown spots on face are not going to enhance your appearance in any way. What can you do about them?
Actually, there are a number of approaches you can take to eliminate this undesirable skin condition, but first you need to know what you are
Brown spots on face are also usually referred to as age spots or sun
spots. The choice of names would indicate the primary causes of these brown spots, which are not limited to the face, by the way.
Not all the brown spots on your face or body are the same, however. These spots that appear on your skin are
generally known as keratosis. There are two major types: seborrheic keratosis and actinic keratosis.
It’s important to know the difference between the two as this will aid you in deciding how you should treat
these age spots or sun spots. Seborrheic keratosis is always a benign condition; that is, it cannot evolve into skin cancer. Actinic keratosis,
however, is pre-cancerous; that is, it can develop into skin cancer over time.
This is not cause for alarm, however, as skin cancers evolve very slowly. The important thing is to be aware and to take action, if necessary.
Let’s take a look at each keratosis.
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What About Seborrheic Keratosis?
Seborrheic keratosis is a harmless lesion that can appear in varying shapes, sizes, and flesh tones.
These age spots have a stuck-on look, like something that could just be picked at and peeled off your face or
body. They are wart-like in that regard, but unlike warts, they do not extend deep into the skin. Also, unlike warts, they do not contain the
human papilloma viruses (HPV) that make warts contagious.
Some of these age spots have a rough fissured cauliflower quality, while others have a generally smooth surface with tiny
bumps, known as horn pearls that look somewhat like seeds that are of a lighter or darker color than surrounding tissue. These brown spots
on the face can sometimes become itchy, especially as we age.
Despite the fact they are annoying, and can be unsightly, leaving seborrheic keratoses alone is not the worse
thing. They are completely harmless. If they become itchy and uncomfortable or impact your appearance negatively, they can be removed.
Be aware that seborrheic keratoses can sometimes be difficult to distinguish from cancerous melanomas. You
should have at minimum annual check-ups with your dermatologist. Your doctor will be able to determine whether what you have is a harmless age
spot or something that will require a biopsy.
Should You Remove Brown Spots Professionally?
Following are two ways your dermatologist can remove those brown spots on your face known as seborrheic keratoses:
- Freezing the seborrheic keratosis with liquid nitrogen. This works best for smaller lesions. The
freezing destroys the cells that connect the age spot to the epidermis, or top skin layer, but leaves the connective tissue foundation
intact. The lesion forms a crust that falls off after several days as the skin below repairs itself. Some scarring may result.
- Shaving the seborrheic keratosis off with a flexible razor blade that will remove the seborrheic
keratosis cells without harming the normal skin. Aluminum chloride or silver nitrate would then be applied to the wound to stop any surface
bleeding. Because silver nitrate is a dark brown color, this would not be the better choice for brown spots on the face.
Visiting your dermatologist is a good idea if the skin growth or brown spot looks suspicious. Moles
especially can sometimes be a problem if their appearance changes, or they become itchy or bleed. If you are not sure whether you may have a
carcinoma (the less serious form of skin cancer) or a melanoma (the more serious form), then see a doctor to have the mole or growth or spot
Fortunately, most brown spots are harmless age spots or sun spots, or simple keratoses. You could go through the trouble and expense of having
a professional remove the spots (most health insurance plans will consider this a cosmetic, rather than medical, procedure and will not cover
it), or you can try something at home that can get you the same results without potential scarring.
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What About Actinic Keratoses?
The other form of brown spots on face, actinic keratoses, are scaly or crusty bumps that form on the surface of your skin. Another name for these is solar keratosis, or sun spots. Unlike the benign age spots (seborrheic keratoses), these sun
spots are precancerous spots.
Their presence is a sign of sun-damaged skin which can evolve into any kind of skin cancer. This sun damage
is cumulative. It happens gradually over a lifetime of sun exposure.
Appearance-wise, sun spots are similar to age spots. They can be tiny or more than an inch across, and range
in color from dark to light flesh tones, as well as pink, red, or any combination of these. The growth itself can be scaly or crusty, flat or
raised, and dry and rough. They may itch or be sensitive to the touch, especially after sun exposure. Some of these sun spots may disappear for a
time and return later.
What makes these sun spots especially noteworthy is that they can lead to the development of skin cancer. Most of these
cancers can be treated effectively if detected early. If allowed to ulcerate and become infected, however, they can invade
surrounding tissue and, in extreme instances, spread, or metastasize to the internal organs.
The most aggressive form of this keratosis, actinic cheilitis, develops on the lips and can evolve into squamous cell carcinoma. About one-fifth
of these cases metastasize. Pointing this out is not to alarm you in anyway, but to equip you with the knowledge you need to protect yourself. If
you suspect you have actinic keratoses, see your dermatologist.
How to treat actinic keratoses, or sun spots, or brown spots on face or other parts of your body?
Are These Professional Procedures Right for Your Skin?
Here are a few effective treatments that your doctor or skin care professional can perform:
- Cryosurgery – this treatment involves applying liquid nitrogen to the lesion to freeze it so that it
falls off after a time.
- Curettage – involves scraping the lesion off and applying acid or heat with an electric needle (cautery)
to control bleeding; a specimen can also be obtained for biopsy.
- Shave – this treatment removes the lesion by using a scalpel; a specimen can be obtained for testing.
Like the previous treatment, the bleeding is stopped by cauterization.
- Chemical Peels – involve the use of acids applied
to the affected area. The top layers of skin peel off. New skin usually appears within seven days. Some redness and soreness may develop but
these usually disappear after a few days.
- Topical Creams – some of these cream medications, such as Aldara, stimulate the immune system, causing
the body to recognize and treat the lesions. Other topical creams, such as Efudex and Carac, attack the precancerous cells directly. Solaraze
gel is another medication that has shown good results in treating sun spots.
Surgery or Natural Approach for Skin Spots?
Age spots and sun spots, can mar your appearance and may impact your health. It’s important to know the
difference between keratoses that are benign or precancerous. Pay a visit to your dermatologist to know what you are dealing with and the options
available to you for removing the brown spots on face or other parts of your body.
If you have benign brown spots, you may prefer an at-home remedy such as the Meladerm product we spoke of
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