Brown Blemishes on My Skin
The first step in treating any blemish is to identify it. Your blemishes might be slowly fading acne scars, sun damage, or even actinic keratosis, an early form of skin cancer. If you aren't sure exactly what they are, see a dermatologist for help. There are numerous treatment options, ranging from alpha hydroxy scrubs to cosmetic surgery, for non-cancerous blemishes.
Acne Scars & Discoloration
Acne often leaves behind scars and discolorations, ranging in color from brown to red purple. According to the American Academy of Dermatology's AcneNet website, family history may play a role in whether your acne results in scars. Some people are genetically predisposed to develop scars, regardless of the severity of their acne. It's important to note the difference between an acne scar and acne-related discoloration. If your post-acne blemish is flat, with the same texture as the surrounding skin, it's likely discoloration. If your blemish is raised and has a different texture, it's likely a scar.
Brown blemishes may also be a form of skin damage caused by sun exposure. The New Zealand Dermatological Society notes that "lentigines" are large brown blemishes that appear on sun-damaged skin. Also called age spots or liver spots, lentigines might fade but they won't disappear naturally. It can sometimes be hard to distinguish between lentigines and melanoma, or skin cancer. According to the New Zealand Dermatological Society, melanoma looks like a freckle or mole, but it usually becomes thick and raised, with amorphous borders and colors ranging from brown to black to red.
Preventing further brown blemishes may be as easy as wearing more sunblock. The American Academy of Family Physicians suggests you wear protective clothing, such as a hat, sunglasses and long-sleeved clothing made of tightly woven fabric. You should also wear sunscreen with SPF 15 or greater, applied 30 minutes before you plan to be in the sun. Preventing acne scars may be more difficult; the AAD recommends seeing a dermatologist to help control acne and prevent further breakouts that might lead to new scars.
The AAD notes that over-the-counter scar treatments can shrink and flatten some scars; fading cream can help even out skin tone that's been discolored by acne. The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology adds that prescription fading creams can do even more to lighten dark patches of skin thanks to an ingredent called hydroquinone, which slows your skin's production of pigment. Over-the-counter fading creams contain about half the amount of hydroquinone as a prescription cream.
The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery offers several different procedures to remove or reduce the appearance of blemishes. Laser resurfacing uses a carbon dioxide laser to remove fine lines or scars. A chemical peel is a powerful exfoliating treatment that removes the top layer of your skin to reveal fresher, unblemished skin underneath. Dermabrasion is similar to sanding or polishing --- blemished layers of skin can be sanded away with special tools, revealing clear skin.
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