Dermatologist Treatment For Dark Spots On Face

Last Updated on June 21, 2021 by Janie Wilson

Best Ways to get rid of dark spots on face

There are so many options for treating dark spots that it can be hard to know where to start. What ingredients do you need? What kind of treatments should you follow to get rid of dark spots? To answer these questions, we spoke to several skin experts to find out which dermatologist treatment for dark spots on face is really right for us. First of all, like everyone else, my ultimate goal is to have flawless skin. We all want to have a complexion that doesn’t even require any makeup. But I’m not there as yet. Most of you aren’t as well, I presume. So, let’s dive into the issue we are dealing with.

What’s the biggest thing holding us back from our goal of not wearing makeup? Dark spots. An uneven skin tone makes us pull out of our makeup bag. Read on to find out what causes pigmentation and the nine anti-pigmentation treatments dermatologists recommend.

Dark spots on the skin, or hyperpigmentation, occur when certain parts of the skin produce more melanin than normal. Melanin gives color to the eyes, skin and hair.

Dark spots on the skin are not a cause for concern and should not be treated, although people may want to remove them for cosmetic reasons. Depending on their cause, some types of dark spots on the skin are called age spots or sun spots.

In this post, we will take a close look at what causes dark spots on the skin and how you can remove them with dermatologist treatment for dark spots on face along with other home remedies if available.


Dark spots often appear on the face, shoulders and back of the hands.

Dark spots on the skin can be of different types–ranging from light to dark brown. The color of the dark spots may depend on the color of a person’s skin. The spots have the same texture as the skin and do not cause any pain.

Dark spots also vary in size and can appear on any part of the body, but are more common in areas that are frequently exposed to the sun.

  • Dark spots often appear in the following areas:
  • Back of the hand
  • Face
  • Back
  • Shoulders

In people with darker skin tones, a spot a few shades darker than the skin usually fades after 6 to 12 months. Deeper spots may take several years to fade. Deep color changes often have a blue or gray appearance, although a spot can also be much darker brown than a person’s natural skin tone.


There are several causes of pigment spots, which are as follows:

Sun damage

Also known as sun spots, solar lentigines or liver spots, these spots can develop into darker patches on the skin after exposure to the sun or tanning bed.

The parts of the body most exposed to the sun, such as the face, hands and arms, are most likely to develop sunspots.

Hormonal changes

Melasma is a skin condition that results in small patches of discoloration on the skin. This condition is more common in women, especially during pregnancy.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, hormonal imbalance can lead to melasma.

Side effects of medications

Some medications can increase skin pigmentation and cause dark spots. The most common medications responsible for dark spots are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), tetracyclines and psychiatric medications.

Inflammation of the skin

Dark spots can appear after inflammation of the skin. Inflammation can have many causes, including eczema, psoriasis, skin lesions and acne.

Skin healing after injury

Dark spots may remain after an insect bite, burn or wound that has healed. They may fade with time.

Skin Irritation

Cosmetic products for the skin or hair can irritate the skin and cause dark spots to form.

High blood sugar level

Diabetes or high blood sugar can cause darkening of certain areas of the skin.

Conditions associated with diabetes include acanthosis nigricans. This causes dark, velvety skin, and shin splotches or diabetic dermopathy, which can be mistaken for age spots.

Dermatologist Treatment For Dark Spots On Face

Treatment available

  1. vitamin C

Don’t just settle for orange juice: Vitamin C can be used as a topical antioxidant, helping to prevent free radicals from causing oxidative damage to the skin. This can lead to wrinkles and a dull complexion. It also inhibits the enzymatic processes that work to produce  melanin in the skin, which can help reduce dark skin tone.

An added advantage is that vitamin C only lightens problematic pigmented areas and not the rest of the skin.

Isdinceutics Melaclear dark Spot Correcting Serum

This effective brightening serum uses ingredients like vitamin C and phytic acid goes a long way towards improving uneven skin tone and discoloration.

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Directions: Apply a few drops daily to cleansed skin, preferably in the morning before applying sunscreen.

  1. Hydroquinone

Hydroquinone has been the gold standard for the treatment of pigmentation spots for more than 50 years. You can find this ingredient without a prescription in concentrations of 2% or less, while prescription medications contain 4% or more. Biologically, hydroquinone works by inhibiting an enzyme called tyrosinase, which contributes to melanin production. In other words, the less tyrosinase produced, the less melanin is produced.

In a few cases, the effects of hydroquinone becomes evident in as little as two weeks. However, most people need 8-12 weeks to see a visible difference, depending on a number of factors, such as the degree of hyperpigmentation, depth of penetration, and how long the hyperpigmentation has been present.

But like any product applied to the skin, hydroquinone can create dryness, redness and burning, which can be a sign of an allergic reaction to the ingredient,” warns a leading medical expert, who always recommends performing a spot test first. Another possible side effect is “ghosting,” the unwanted lightening of skin outside the treated area. To avoid this, apply hydroquinone lightly to the center of the area and then fade it toward the edges.

Ambi Skin Care fade Cream

For those who want to try hydroquinone, this lightweight cream is easy to use and it also pairs well with your favorite sunscreen.

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Application: Best applied at night first, then twice daily for maximum effect. Use with sunscreen during the day as this ingredient can cause sun sensitivity.

  1. Kojic acid

Kojic acid, which is extracted from mushrooms or fermented rice, is commonly used in skin-lightening products and is best used in tandem with hydroquinone for optimal results. It works by suppressing a key factor in pigment cell activity. The overall risk of topical kojic acid is allergic dermatitis, which is why it is mainly used in relatively low concentrations. People with sensitive skin should opt for low dosages and only at night, as inflammation and irritation may be side effects. Also, let me remind you that you should not expect quick results. It may take quite a few months before you see an improvement in hyperpigmentation when using topical kojic acid.

Evagloss dark Spot Corrector Serum

This corrective kojic acid-based serum can help reduce dark spots and smooth skin imperfections. Use at night, only on dark spots or problem areas.

4. Soybeans

Soy extract, derived from the soy plant, has been shown to help lighten skin. That’s why you’ll find it in many skin-lightening products. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), soy works to treat brown spots by preventing melanin from penetrating the top layer of skin.

Aveeno Positively Radiant Targeted Tone Corrector

This oil-free anti-dark spot treatment helps fade discoloration and also improves the appearance of blotchy skin.

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How to use:  Apply morning and night to dark spots before using your usual moisturizer.

5. Azelaic acid

This lesser known ingredient is recommended by dermatologists  for the treatment of facial pigmentation. What exactly is it? Azelaic acid is a natural extract from oats, wheat or rye that prevents the formation of abnormal pigmentation. Plus, it has antibacterial properties that can help clear acne and scars left by pimples.

Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster

If you want to try something new to treat dark spots, this antibacterial cream gel contains azelaic acid as the primary ingredient to improve discoloration.

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How to use: apply to face once or twice daily and you can use alone or in combination with your favorite moisturizer. If using during the day, apply sunscreen afterwards.

6. Laser treatment

Lasers are the most expensive but also the most effective treatment to reduce pigmentation. They use a focused beam of light directed at a specific target (pigment) to dissolve and remove pigment particles. IPL (intense pulsed light) can take care of unwanted pigmentation. However, it provides less focused light and can have an undesirable effect on the surrounding skin, especially on dark or tanned skin.

The ideal laser treatment for hyperpigmentation provides a cooling beam, or at least limits the amount of heat produced. You can enquire with your dermatologist if they are treating with a fast, focused beam laser, such as the Lightpod Neolaser. This type of laser helps prevent inflammatory reaction, burns or side injuries.

Cost: $250-$2,500

Derm tip: Expect up to six treatments (possibly more) every three to four weeks, in-office only.

7. Chemical peels

Exfoliation treatments, such as chemical peels, remove the top layers of dead skin and help reduce the lusterless appearance of the skin, allowing it to reflect more light and look more radiant. Over time, these treatments can boost collagen production, increase cell turnover and reduce pigmentation, but beware of overly harsh chemical peels, which can burn the skin. Common active ingredients in professional exfoliants include glycolic acid, mandelic acid, salicylic acid, lactic acid and trichloroacetic acid. Although chemical peels are available for home use, they are more likely to remove dead skin than penetrate deep enough to lighten pigmentation.

However, remember that chemical peels can be very aggressive, especially on sensitive skin. So talk to your dermatologist about how you might react to them before booking a treatment.

Cost: $100-$1,000

Derm tip: Seeing results usually requires three to six treatments (possibly more) every three to four weeks. You should note that deeper peels carry a higher risk, but may only require one or two treatments.

8. Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion is another well-known exfoliation treatment for hyperpigmentation that uses tiny particles to remove dead skin cells. Microdermabrasion  can be described as a non-chemical procedure that is not an ablative method, which means that the skin tissue is not destroyed and therefore no significant recovery time is required. Microdermabrasion is best suited to less severe hyperpigmentation, as the results are modest in terms of improving the visibility of skin discolouration.

Cost: $100-600

Dermat tip: Skin experts generally recommend three to six treatments (possibly more) every two to four weeks.

  1. Microneedling

This treatment is not for the faint-hearted people. Using a medical-grade stainless steel roller with hundreds of tiny points, the device creates a series of microscopic scars to restore collagen production and skin elasticity. While there are many at-home versions, almost all dermatologists and skin experts recommend that you ask your doctor to have a close look on the penetration level.

For better results, microneedling is used in tandem with topical treatments. Once the skin barrier is opened, ingredients known to brighten the skin, such as vitamin C, can also be added. Dermatologists may also use a serum for wound healing or a combination of hyaluronic acid and vitamin C to treat hyperpigmentation, particularly in darker skin tones. They point out that microneedling carries a risk of scarring if performed too aggressively. Patients with darker skin tones may also experience increased pigmentation. But if done properly, the skin tone will become brighter as early as the week after treatment.

Cost: $300 to $1,750

Dermatology Tip: Expect your dermatologist to do at least three treatments every six weeks.

10. Protection from Sunlight

Anyway, one has to remember that prevention from sunlight is also very important.

The good news is that preventing pigmentation is often as simple as applying sunscreen (which you generally use every day). Daily sunscreen is absolutely the best way to prevent hyperpigmentation. Even minimal exposure to UV light increases over the course of life and can cause dark spots.

A renowned skin expert from United States, opines: “Dark spots get darker with sunlight. Sunscreens, especially physical sunscreen products with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, can block most of the radiation that darkens pigment spots.

For proper protection, you should use a broad-spectrum sunblock cream (SPF 30 or higher) that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, even if it claims that it provides protection for  “all day,” or “24 hour protection,” or “water resistant”. All skin experts also recommend avoiding sunbathing in general — especially on sensitive areas –between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Even invisible light can increase skin pigmentation. If you are outside when the sun is at its peak, seek out cool, shady areas or wear proper clothing to protect your skin from sunlight.

Coola Organic Mineral Face Matte Tint Sunscreen

To prevent pigmentation spots from darkening, experts recommend using a daily sunblock cream, such as this matte version from Coola, which is suitable for oily as well as dry skin.

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Dermatologist Treatment For Dark Spots On Face

Wrapping up

I’m sure this long post about the dermatologist treatment of dark spots on the face has given you enough relevant information about what to do if you have dark spots on your face. You need to find the treatment that suits you best and that depends on your budget and your personal preferences. Everyone wants to have youthful and radiant skin, and if you can remove all the dark spots from your face, you are on the right track. Look young, stay young!


Janie Wilson
Janie Wilson

Janie Wilson, a former fashion model and photographer, dedicated beauty expert and prolific writer on all topics related to fashion, beauty, hair and skin care. I started this website a few years ago when I felt that I have had enough of a hectic lifestyle and need to settle down. Presently, I live with my loving-and-caring husband in New York, but I travel around the world pretty often to derive inspiration for my fashion blog. Yes, let me admit that I am fairly obsessed with anything related to fashion and style. All things from fashion to grooming are things I study all the time whenever I get an opportunity, and my biggest joy in life is to help men and women look their best!