Dark spots are common skin concerns for both men and women. With the stress of COVID-19 and the the extra-hot June we are having in South Florida, melasma and other pigmentation problems can get worse.
Many dermatologists are only seeing emergency visits, but our practice and some others are treating skin pigmentation problems via telemedicine. If you cannot get an appointment with a dermatologist for your pigmentation issue, here are some tips.
Wear SPF even when indoors
Blue light from your phone and computer screen have been shown to increase skin pigmentation. For that reason, the most important product to use on your face every morning is SPF. Look for SPF with iron oxides, which are the best blockers for blue light.
I like EltaMD UV Elements SPF. Another great option with iron oxides is Dermablend facial foundation.
Skin-lightening ingredients to use in summer
Some skin-lightening ingredients can cause skin sensitivity, redness, or irritation. For this reason, your dermatologist may recommend using these other skin-lightening ingredients in the summer months:
▪ Kojic acid. Kojic acid is derived from the rice fermentation process. This natural tyrosinase inhibitor is gentler on the skin than hydroquinone, making it a good choice to use in the summer or for sensitive skin.
▪ Vitamin C. Vitamin C also works by blocking tyrosinase from producing more pigment in the skin, and is a powerful antioxidant. In some cases, vitamin C may work best when paired with retinol.
▪ Arbutin. This derivative of Kojic acid is another ingredient often found in skin brightening products
▪ Tranexamic acid. This oral form of this is frequently used to decrease skin pigmentation It is now found topically in SkinMedica Lytera 2.0 and Skinceuticals Discoloration Defense.
When prescribing a skin-lightening treatment product with hydroquinone, I tell patients to take a one-month break from using them every three to four months to help prevent side effects.
What makes your skin more sun-sensitive?
These things can make you more sun-sensitive and more likely to pigment, so use caution when on the beach or by the pool:
▪ Antibiotics. Some common antibiotics such as doxycycline and tetracycline can make your skin more sensitive to the sun’s UV rays. If you are taking prescribed antibiotics, it is best to avoid the sun and seek shade. If you have to be outside in the sun, be sure to use and reapply sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.
▪ Limes in drinks. Cocktails that come with limes in or on them can cause a condition called phytophotodermatitis, in which your skin becomes brown where you’ve come into contact with the lime.
▪ Certain skin-lightening ingredients. Some pigmentation treatment ingredients may make your skin more sensitive to the sun. In rare cases, skin-lightening ingredients can discolor your skin or nails. If this happens, quit using that product and talk with your dermatologist about an alternative.
How to prevent spots on the skin
The best way to prevent dark spots is to stay out of the sun! Wear sun-protective clothing and seek shade whenever possible. Use SPF daily, remembering to reapply it every hour when outside or after swimming.
Reducing stress and exposure to heat will also help. If you are taking estrogen, talk to your doctor about other options.
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