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  • Sponsored Q&A

    Ask Dr Charlotte: How can I get rid of or fade brown spots on my face?

    Each month Healthshare asks our followers to ask questions around a health topic. Our in-house GP, Dr Charlotte Middleton picks a handful of them and provides answers in a video. February topic was SKIN CANCERS AND DERMATOLOGY.
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    • Dr Charlotte Middleton
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  • Special interests: integrative health (nutrition/vitamins/supplements), certified GAPS nutritional practitioner, womens and childrens health, endocrine disorders, weight loss, autoimmune disease View Profile

    Brown spots can be caused by a number of conditions, but generally when we talk about the appearance of brown spots on the skin, we’re talking about flat brown oval areas or blemishes. They can range in colour from light to dark brown, red or even black.

    They typically appear after prolonged exposure to the sun and often start in middle age, most commonly on the face, hands, shoulders, arms, forehead and scalp, if you happen to be bold. Usually brown spots don’t require any treatment unless there is a cosmetic reason for it.

    The exposure to the sun may results in freckles, age spots or melasma, which is a facial discolouration. You can also get brown spots after trauma caused by skin diseases, such as acne or post-inflammatory pigmentation. Certain medication and conditions, including pregnancy, liver disease, Addison’s disease and haemochromatosis can also predispose you to the development of brown spots. There are also other types of brown spots, such as seborrheic keratosis, moles, melanomas and café au lait spots.

    What we know is that, particularly in the instance of freckles and age spots, you can be predisposed to the development of those if you've got light coloured skin, fair hair and if you have a history of frequent sun exposure. The development of brown spots arises because in our skin we have a pigment called melanin. It can accelerate in production due to sun exposure or skin trauma, which over time results in brown spots. Aside from the causes already mentioned, it can simply be an ageing process or something that you have in your genetic makeup that makes you predisposed to developing brown spots.

    In terms of treatment, the most obvious thing you can do is to protect your skin and be sun smart. There are a lot of anti-ageing treatments creams or fading creams on the market that often contain a component called hydroquinone or antioxidants such as alpha hydroxy acids, vitamin C or retinoids. You can also go to a beauty salon or your dermatologist for chemical peels, cryotherapy and there are multiple different laser treatments out there.

    If you’re looking for something more natural or cheaper, the internet is full of ideas, such as yoghurt treatments, aloe vera, onion juice, sandalwood paste, castor oil (used topically), buttermilk, lemon juice, horseradish juice, sour cream and honey, strawberries, apricots, yellow mustard, papaya or pineapple juice, parsley and tumeric. One of those treatments may be right for you.

    If you are concerned about the development of new spots on your skin, you should go to your doctor and have them checked. Particularly if any of them have any sort of dark pigmentation, irregular border, is rapidly increasing in size, if they are tender to touch, itchy or bleeding – all of those features are a cause for alarm and you should go and see your doctor as soon as possible.

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