Spots on the face skin: causes, treatments and prevention

Have you noticed spots on your face skin? They can be caused by several reasons but first we need to distinguish among the various spots that appear on the skin: dark colored spots, red spots and age spots.

Also the parts of the face on which these spots appear make us understand what their causes may be.

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Spots on different parts of the face

Spots can develop on different parts of the face: forehead, cheeks, along the jaw line and on the T-zone. And each part is related to a specific reason.

  • Forehead Spots: This could be due to your hair or to the diet you follow.. When sweat gets caught in your bangs, or when residues of the products used in your hair penetrate into your skin, it can clog your pores, causing blemishes. Spots on the forehead could also be a sign of consuming too much red meat, saturated fat, or alcohol.
  • Spots on the T-zone: Face skin tends to be oilier in the so-called T-zone (forehead and nose) causing more spots in this area.
  • Spots on cheeks: they too can be due to excessive consumption of red meat, sugar and dairy products, but also to hygiene. Pillows and phones carry a lot of bacteria and when we put them close to your face they can cause stains so make sure you clean your mobile phone with antibacterial wipes and change your pillows often.
  • Spots on the chin and around the mouth: They usually signal a hormonal change, which can cause the sebaceous glands to become overstimulated. This is why women may notice more spots on their chin during their periods or if they are on birth control pills.
  • Spots along the jaw: This could be due to congestion in the large intestine. Highly processed foods, such as ready meals, fast food and biscuits, could cause spots to form along the jawline.

Dark spots on the skin of the face

Dark spots (usually brown) on the face skin are also known as hyperpigmentation (i.e. overproduction or accumulation of melanin, a skin pigment, but are also due to free radical damage), age spots, sun freckles or liver spots, depending on their cause, and can occur at any time, although more often than not they appear with age.

Moreover, they are frequently caused by long exposure to the sun or artificial ultraviolet light but also as a side effect of some medications.

Causes of dark spots on the skin

Exposure to ultraviolet light. The consequences of sun exposure, especially if sunscreen has not been used, begin towards middle age.

Hormones. When hormone levels fluctuate, one of the most common side effects is a change in pigmentation, called melasma. Pregnant women often develop dark patches on their face (on the nose, cheeks, jawline, forehead, or chin), creating a pattern called a "mask of pregnancy" or "chloasma."

This type of hyperpigmentation typically lasts until the end of pregnancy or when hormone levels return to balance.

Exposure to both sun and heat can make the appearance of this hormone-triggered hyperpigmentation worse. A high-temperature environment can affect your hyperpigmentation, causing dark spots to enlarge and spread.


Read also: Dark spots on the skin: causes and natural remedies


Special skin conditions :

  • Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation: discoloration of the skin due to an inflammatory lesion, such as acne.
  • Melasma : Also known as pregnancy mask or chloasma.
  • Linea nigra : Dark vertical line running lengthwise down the center of the abdomen during pregnancy.
  • Riehl's melanosis : A form of contact dermatitis thought to be caused by sun exposure.
  • Civatte poikiloderma : A benign condition that causes parts of the neck to turn reddish-brown.
  • Follicular Erythromelanosis : A condition characterized by reddish-brown pigmentation of the face and neck.

Treatment against dark spots on the skin

Dark spots on the skin have the same texture as the rest of the skin. And most often they pose no health risk but can be eased or removed completely with prescription drugs, medical procedures, and home treatments.

  • Chemical peelings : They contain both salicylic acid and glycolic acid, which strip away the top layer of the skin, revealing a healthier and more evenly toned skin.
  • Laser treatment: burns dark spots. Risks include bruising, swelling, redness, scarring, infection, and changes in skin texture.
  • Microdermabrasion: There are two types of microdermoabrasion, both of which exfoliate the skin on the surface. This technique is performed by a machine that emits fine crystals through a wand. Rubbing against the skin, these crystals scrape away cells. Diamond tip microdermabrasion, instead, uses the abrasive end of the wand.
  • Cryosurgery: Reduces age spots by freezing them with a liquid nitrogen solution that causes the darkened skin to peel away from the body. Risks involve permanent discoloration of the treated areas.

How to prevent dark spots on skin

As we age, dark spots may be unavoidable, but there are still ways to avoid them or to prevent faded spots from returning:

  • Use a good sunscreen: Apply sunscreen every 2 hours, or before swimming or sweating a lot.
  • Cover Up: When outdoors, wear a hat (wide-brimmed is best), long sleeves, and pants. SPF (sun blocking) fabrics can provide additional protection.
  • Avoid peak hours: Exposure to ultraviolet rays is usually highest between 10am and 2pm.
  • Use Vitamin C regularly: If applied regularly, a topical antioxidant such as a vitamin C serum helps against dark spots, as vitamin C interferes with melanin production (in addition to providing many other skin benefits)

Red spots on the face skin 

The red spots that appear on the skin of the face can be due to various causes.

Spots on the face skin characterised by a reddish color are a common medical problem. They can be caused by rashes due to skin infections, disseminated infections (spread all over the body), allergic reactions, or skin irritations.

There are 2 different types of red spots on the skin due to rashes:

  1. if a red rash is flat, it's called a macula
  2. if the red spot is raised, it is known as papule .

If the red spots on the skin occur singly, it may be a hemangioma, that is a small, benign tumor of the blood vessels. While pinpoint-sized spots of bleeding are referred to as petechiae .

Other causes of red spots on the skin are:

  • Bacterial infections
  • bleeding disorders
  • Fungal infections
  • Medicines
  • Toxic epidermal necrolysis
  • Viral infection


Causes of red spots on the skin

  • Acne. Acne is a localized skin inflammation caused by the overactivity of the sebaceous glands at the base of the hair follicles. It comes in various forms: superficial pustules (so it contains pus), pimples, deeper cysts, congested pores, whiteheads or blackheads. Read also: Snail slime against acne
  • Pimples. They are skin abscesses, an accumulation of pus located deep in the skin. There are several types of pimples: boils or carbuncles, cystic acne, hidradenitis suppurativa and pilonidal cyst.
  • Atopic dermatitis. Eczema is an umbrella term for many types of dermatitis, i.e. an inflammation of the skin. Atopic dermatitis is among the most common types of eczema. Other types of eczema include: contact eczema, allergic contact eczema, seborrheic eczema, nummular eczema, stasis dermatitis, and dyshidrotic eczema.
  • Chickenpox. It is a contagious childhood disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Symptoms have an incubation period of 14 to 16 days and include a couple of days of low-grade fever, weakness, and a red, raised rash progressing to blisters that eventually burst and crust over. 
  • Allergies. An allergy is an adverse reaction of our immune system in response to bodily contact with some foreign substances. When these allergens come into contact with the body, the immune system develops a reaction in people who are allergic to these substances.

Spots on the face and body skin due to age

Spots on both face and body skin due to ageing are small, dark and flat areas on the skin, that can very in size and usually appear on areas exposed to the sun, such as the face, hands, shoulders and arms. They are also called sun spots, liver spots and solar freckles.

They are very common in adults over the age of 50, but can also appear in younger people if they spend a lot of time in the sun.

Age-related spots on the face skin need no treatment as they are not only a sign that the skin has been in the sun for too long, but also the skin's attempt to protect itself from further sun damage. For aesthetic reasons they can be lightened or removed.

How do age spots appear on the skin?

  • They are flat, oval areas, due to increased pigmentation
  • Their color usually varies from light brown to dark brown
  • They appear on some parts of the skin that have been excessvely exposed to the sun over the years, such as the backs of the hands, tops of the feet, face, shoulders, and upper back
  • Their size may vary from that of a freckle to about 13 millimeters in diameter
  • They can cluster together, becoming more evident

Causes and risk factors of age spots on the skin

We mentioned above that age spots are caused by overactive pigment cells. Ultraviolet light from the sun accelerates the production of melanin, a natural pigment that gives skin its color.

Age spots appear on skin damaged by years of sun exposure when melanin builds up or is produced in high concentrations. The use of tanning beds and lamps can also cause age spots.

The biggest risk factors for developing age spots are:

  • A fair skin
  • A history of frequent or intense sun exposure or sunburn

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