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Skin Discoloration on the Legs

Skin Discoloration on the Legs Skin Discoloration on the Legs Skin Discoloration on the Legs

Overview

Many people notice some irregularities in skin tone, especially in areas frequently exposed to the sun, such as the skin on your legs. Known as hyperpigmentation, dark splotches of skin often appear near irritated or wounded skin. While skin discoloration is common, not all spots are harmless. Consult your doctor for any unusual changes in your skin's appearance.

Causes

Discolored spots and patches can occur on your legs for a variety of reasons. Hormonal changes, as well as surface damage, can lead to hyperpigmentation. Small nicks and scrapes from shaving your legs or walking through shrubs and prickly undergrowth may cause minor skin trauma that increases your risk of developing discolored spots on your legs. The American Academy of Dermatology advises that these darkened patches of skin may take months or years to fade completely.

Factors

While many individuals experience areas of hyperpigmentation, people with dark skin tones may experience this skin condition more frequently than people with fair skin do, according to Hampton University. Wearing shorts can expose legs to sunlight, which may increase the incidence of uneven skin tones, especially in areas with skin damage.

Prevention

Protect your legs from damage by wearing long pants that guard against scratches and scrapes. Shave carefully to avoid nicking or cutting your legs. Use a clean, sharp razor and a shaving gel or lotion to help prevent irritation during shaving. Shave in the direction of your hair growth, rather than shaving against the growth. Apply a sunscreen before going outdoors to prevent additional darkening in areas of hyperpigmentation.

Self-Care

Non-prescription fade creams that contain 2 percent hydroquinone may help fade and reduce the appearance of areas of hyperpigmentation. Prescription strength creams usually contain twice the amount of hydroquinone as over-the-counter creams, and may produce better results. You may need to continue using hydroquinone creams for several weeks before you notice any skin lightening. Some fade creams include additional ingredients, such as tretinoin, glycolic acid and corticosteroids.

Therapies

Stubborn or large discolored areas on your legs may require professional treatments. Your dermatologist may recommend chemical peels or microdermabrasion. For stubborn hyperpigmentation spots that don't respond to other treatment, your doctor may recommend laser treatment to help minimize the appearance of discoloration on your legs.

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