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Facial Skin Spots


Facial skin spots are common, and almost everyone has experienced blemishes on the face at some time. Skin flaws can be in many forms as varied as acne, birthmarks, moles, scars and wrinkles. Facial skin problems can occur as a result of age, exposure to environmental elements, genetics and viruses. Many spots are the face are not harmful, but you should be watchful of any condition that is persistent or worsens, as it may indicate the need for medical attention.

Sun Damage

The biggest contributing factor to facial skin problems is long-term exposure to the sun that can lead to uneven pigmentation, leathery skin and skin cancer. Melasma is a skin condition activated by exposure to the sun. It causes brown to gray-brown patches on the face including cheeks, nose, forehead, chin and upper lip. The condition, which may be hereditary, is more prevalent in women and, during pregnancy, is known as the "mask of pregnancy." Sun exposure continues to cause re-occurrence of symptoms of melasma after fading.

Skin Conditions

A number of chronic skin conditions can cause facial skin spots. Adults with fair skin are most affected by facial redness and swelling caused by rosacea. Rosacea, which develops slowly at first, appears as a facial flush, worsening over time and seldom resolving on its own. Effective treatment of rosacea involves topical or oral medications and skin treatments such as laser therapy.

Moles, Freckles and Age Spots

Most moles, which appear as raised, round dark brown spots are harmless but have the potential to develop into skin cancer. Moles can be present from birth or develop over time. A mole should be evaluated if it develops uneven coloring, an irregular edge or grows larger than a pencil eraser. Freckles, age or liver spots and dark skin spots caused by acne, injuries or surgery can become more pronounced when exposed to the sun, because melanin absorbs ultraviolet rays to protect the skin from overexposure, according to American Osteopathic College of Dermatology.


Areas of over-pigmented skin at birth or appearing shortly after birth, ranging in color and form, can be either pigmented or vascular birthmarks. Most birthmarks are harmless and can be permanent or temporary. Some birthmarks may pose skin problems, and a dermatologist can recommend appropriate treatment.


Eczema is a form of dermatitis, which means inflammation of the skin. Dermatitis occurs in many forms and has a variety of causes. Symptoms are usually swollen, reddened spots, often itchy, according to MayoClinic. The most common type of dermatitis is contact dermatitis, which causes a reaction from contact with substances such as soaps, skin care products and cosmetics. An allergic reaction often triggers atopic dermatitis, the immune system's response to what it perceives as a foreign component. Dry skin can bring on red spotty symptoms of nummular dermatitis. Certain medications and disease can cause generalized exfoliative dermatitis, according to Merck Manuals.

Skin Cancer

The most common types of skin cancer are non-melanomas. Basal cell carcinoma is slow growing and can develop on the head, face or neck but usually does not spread to other parts of the body. It appears as red lumps or a scaly area that bleeds easily and does not heal. Squamous cell carcinoma often appears on the face, which is most exposed to the sun. It is most common in people aged over 50 and grows quickly over several months appearing as thickened red, scaly spots that won't heal, according to the Cancer Council. Spots on the lips and ears can easily spread and need immediate medical attention. Be particularly watchful for unusual spots that may indicate a less common but more severe type of skin cancer like melanoma.

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