There are many types of brown spots that people can acquire over the years and these different brown spots are treated in many different ways!
Melasma is a type of brown skin discoloration that most commonly occurs on the face. It is more commonly seen in women than men as it tends to flare with hormones such as those found in birth control pills and it commonly flares during pregnancy. The best treatments for melasma include both prescription and over the counter lightening creams. In-office chemical peels can also help lighten this kind of discoloration. Very rarely, some lasers can be used, but only in specific cases. Melasma often gets worse with sunlight. It is very important for patients with melasma to follow strict sun avoidance and always wear sunscreen on the affected areas, even throughout the winter and on cloudy days. [more about Melasma]
Sun spots (also called solar lentigines) are discolored spots on the skin that can present anywhere on the body including arms, legs, face, and torso. They are caused by sun exposure. These lesions can come out in the skin even years after sun exposure, not just as the result of recent exposure. Both prescription and over the counter lightening creams may help to fade sun spots. Additionally, in office chemical peels can help fade these dark spots. Laser and intense pulse light treatments often provide the fastest and most effective results. After these treatments, dark spots tend to look darker for anywhere from 1-3 weeks. Soon after, they develop a thin crust and will start to flake off. Based on the type of sun spots you have, your dermatologist can help decide which of these laser or light treatment options is best for you.
PIH is a type of dark spot that is most often seen in spots where there may have been past acne lesions or some type of inflammation. It is more common to see this in people with darker skin. Generally, PIH tends to fade on its own, but could take over one year for some people. Often times this type of discoloration is best treated with in office chemical peels.