Dark spots on the skin are not a cause for concern and do not need treatment, though people may choose to remove them for cosmetic reasons. Depending on the cause, people may call some types of dark spots on the skin age spots or sunspots.
In this article, we look at what causes dark spots on the skin and how people can remove them using dermatological treatments and home remedies.
Dark spots on the skin can range from light brown to dark brown. The color of dark spots may depend on the tone of a person’s skin. The spots are the same texture as the skin and are not painful.
Dark spots also vary in size and can develop on any part of the body but are most common in areas often exposed to the sun.
Dark spots are common in the following areas:
- back of the hands
In people with darker skin, a spot that is a few shades darker than the skin usually fades away within 6 to 12 months. Deeper coloration can take years to fade. Deep color changes often appear blue or gray, though a spot may also be a much darker brown than a person’s natural skin color.
There are several different causes of dark spots, as we describe here:
Also called sunspots, solar lentigines, or liver spots, people can develop dark spots on their skin after being exposed to the sun or tanning beds.
Areas of the body that receive the most sun exposure, such as the face, hands, or arms, are most likely to develop sun spots.
Melasma is a skin condition that leads to small patches of skin discoloration. The condition is more common in women, especially during pregnancy.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, hormones may trigger melasma.
Medication side effects
Certain medications can increase skin pigmentation and lead to dark spots. The most common culprits are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), tetracyclines, and psychotropic drugs.
Dark spots may remain after an insect bite, burn, or cut heals. These may fade with time.
Cosmetic skin or hair products can irritate the skin, causing dark patches to form.
Diabetes can cause areas of the skin to become darker.
Conditions associated with diabetes include acanthosis nigricans, which causes darkened, velvety skin, and shin spots or diabetic dermopathy, which people may confuse with age spots.