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Many patients visit our NY offices to consult with our dermatologists about the appearance of irregular brown spots on their skin. While brown spots are nearly always harmless, patients often wish to minimize them to improve the appearance of their skin. Irregular brown spots on the skin may also be referred to as hyperpigmentation, liver spots, or sun spots, as they tend to appear on sun-exposed areas of the body.
Brown skin spots appear on the skin when melanocytes (the pigment cells located within the epidermis) overproduce melanin, the pigment that provides our skin, eyes, and hair with color. Brown spots tend to become more prevalent on the skin as we age. Exposure to the sun is major contributing factor in the development of irregular spots on the skin. Brown spots tend to appear on areas of the body that are frequently exposed to the sun, such as the face, hands, chest, and neck. Brown spots may also be caused by changes in hormones, such as during pregnancy, or by certain medications. In rare cases, brown spots on the skin may indicate melanoma, a type of skin cancer that can be fatal if left untreated.
If you are bothered by brown spots or concerned about an irregular spot that has changed appearance recently, you should make an appointment at one of our Long Island, Manhattan, Westchester or New Jersey locations. Our doctor will examine your skin and review your medical history to determine the cause of your irregular brown spots. If your doctor is concerned that a brown spot may indicate the beginning stages of skin cancer, he or she will biopsy the area and send it to a laboratory for examination.
If you wish to lighten or reduce the appearance of benign hyperpigmentation or sun spots, our dermatologists can recommend a variety of treatments. These range from topical ointments and creams to laser treatments. Lasers are extremely effective in reducing the appearance of brown spots. The laser beam targets the darker areas of pigmentation below the skin to break up the pigmentation, allowing your body to remove the pigmentation fragments naturally. After your skin heals, the brown spots will be completely eliminated or much reduced in color and size. In some cases, only one treatment is required, but sometimes multiple treatment sessions are required. Should the brown spot indicate skin cancer, your doctor will recommend that you immediately have the spot removed.
Irregular brown spots occur as part of the natural aging process; however, you can take preventative measures to slow or prevent their appearance by taking care of your skin. It’s best to begin protecting the skin from childhood, but even later care will be helpful. Apply sunscreen every time you go into the sun, especially during the summer months and during midday. You can further protect your skin by wearing sunglasses, hats, and long clothing. We also recommend that you use a daily facial moisturizer than contains sun protection. By taking these measures, you will slow melanocyte stimulation by the sun, thus preventing the formation of irregular brown spots. Make an appointment with one of our doctors in NY to learn more about how you can protect your skin and reduce the likelihood of developing brown spots on your skin.