The skin’s pigmentation or color changes over a lifetime. Many factors affect skin color, including sun exposure, diet, general health and heredity. Melanin is the substance in the skin that creates pigments, including freckles in children or age spots in adults. Scars and medical conditions, such as melasma can form dark areas on the skin. This uneven skin tone can be mild to severe. You can use a few methods to try to improve skin tone. Not all methods work for everyone or for every condition, so trial and error are often needed.
Apply an over-the-counter bleaching cream to the skin. Look for products with hydroquinone, an FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved bleaching chemical. Read the directions on the label. In most cases you apply these creams once or twice a day for several weeks or month until the pigmentation improves. The Mayo Clinic also suggests looking for OTC products that have deoxyarbutin, glycolic acid or kojic acid. These ingredients, like hydroquinone, fade dark spots over a period of several weeks or months depending on how dark the pigmentation is.
Apply a prescription bleaching cream. See a dermatologist for pigmentation problems that don't respond to OTC creams or lotions. The doctor can prescribe hydroquinone cream in a much larger concentration than is available over the counter. The Mayo Clinic also states that in some cases the doctor also prescribes retinoids to be used in conjunction with the hydroquinone.
Have a chemical peel. Dermatologists also perform chemical peels. During a peel the doctor applies an acid to the skin that burns off the top layer. Once the skin heals and the skin regenerates, the new skin is less damaged and more even in skin tone. In some cases the doctor may prescribe a few chemical peels spaced several weeks apart for best results..
Have laser treatments. With laser treatments a dermatologist uses a beam of infrared light to "destroy melanin-producing cells without damaging the skin's surface," reports the Mayo Clinic. Several laser treatments are usually necessary to improve the skin's pigmentation.
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