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Skin Condition

Brown Spots

Brown or dark spots are caused by the overproduction of melanin in the skin otherwise known as hyperpigmentation.

Dark spots on the skin can range from light brown to dark brown and this depends on a person’s skin tone. These areas of discoloration are the same texture as the skin, are not painful, can vary in size, and can develop on any part of the body. The most common areas are areas often exposed to the sun.

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Brown Spots

About this condition

Melanin is the pigment that determines the colour of your skin, hair, and eyes. 

Sun exposure is one of the main causes of brown spots. This is because the skin absorbs the UV rays and the melanocytes (the cells that produce melanin) are accelerated. Thus causing brown spots to appear on the skin’s surface. 

There are 4 main reasons we may start to see the development of brown spots. These are; sun exposure, aging, hormones, and genetics. 

Where aging is associated with brown spots, this is purely due to the time in which the skin has been exposed to the sun’s UV rays. So aging is not the culprit, more so that it stands to reason the older you are, the more exposure you would have had. 

Women may notice that due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, they develop a darkening of the skin in some areas.

In particular, the upper lip may be affected causing the illusion of a moustache. This is because spikes in oestrogen and progesterone can cause melasma to occur in pregnant women. This should correct itself once the hormone levels return to normal postpartum. 

Genetically we may also be more inclined to see the occurrence of brown spots. This is because the levels of melanin are determined from birth and inherited through our genetic makeup. It is a common misconception that people with a darker skin tone have a higher number of melanocytes. People of both light and dark skin tones have a similar number of melanocytes in their skin. The difference lies in the melanosomes which are the organelles that contain the pigment. It is these that are of a higher volume if people with darker complexions. 

Brown Spots

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Brown Spots

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Dr. Elham Sattari

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Dr. Elham Sattari

Aesthetic Dermatology MD, PhD

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Professor Breymann

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