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Brown and dark spots on the skin: causes and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

The Skin constitutes our shield of protection against diverse agents in the environment. As a result, it is the constant object of multiple “attacks” that can injure it. In the same way, different conditions of the individual can manifest themselves on their Skin, giving rise to the appearance of various forms of manifestations. One such form is dark brown spots on the Skin, appearing in specific places or spreading throughout the body, depending on the causative agent.

In this FastlyHealarticle, we explain all the causes of brown and dark spots on the Skin and how to eliminate them with the most effective treatments.

How the skin color occurs

Before looking at the causes of brown spots on the Skin, we will briefly review how normal skin coloration occurs.

In our Skin, there are a group of cells called melanocytes. These cells are responsible for producing a pigment called melanin, which allows the coloring of different skins. Some will have more melanin (as in African Americans and Africans), others will have less (as in Caucasians), and others will not (as in people with albinism).

The primary stimulus for melanin production is sun exposure. When you spend a lot of time in the sun, you “get burned,” your Skin darkens, the level of melanin increases, and the normal pigmentation of your skin changes. This also explains why those most exposed areas (face, arms) have a different coloration (darker) than the rest of the body that you keep covered. However, this standard mechanism can be disturbed and lead to specific areas becoming excessively dark and brown. We will see under what circumstances this can happen.

Brown and dark spots on the Skin: causes

Advanced age

Naturally, as we get older, certain areas that have usually been heavily exposed to the sun (face, hands, arms) will develop small dark brown spots.

It is suggested that after the age of 50, some cells can get out of the equilibrium state that they have been maintaining and produce melanin in excess, which is why this condition would occur, which is normal and does not warrant treatment.

However, any new spot on the Skin should be studied to establish with certainty that it is just an age spot and to rule out skin cancer.

Sun exposure + citrus

The combination of citrus fruit juice (lemon, orange, etc.) with sun exposure guarantees extraordinary and multiform brown and dark spots on the Skin that will surprise many. You will see the trace of your fingers drawn on your skin in any area you have touched and then exposed to the sun.

It is a phenomenon called phytophotodermatitis and can cause severe burns due to the combination of both elements if sun exposure is prolonged.


People who have excess insulin circulating in the blood ( prediabetes, type 1 diabetes, or primary hyperinsulinism) have a particular condition since the melanocytes are overstimulated by insulin (another of the stimulation mechanisms, in addition to the sun); therefore, they produce more melanin than usual.

One of the manifestations of diabetes is the appearance of brown spots on the body, especially in the folds (neck, armpits, elbows, knees).

Acanthosis nigricans

Also, as a consequence of the alteration in blood insulin levels, in this case, in addition to the dark spots on the skin (which can become frankly black), significant thickening of the affected skin is observed, showing an appearance of “dirt” or accumulation of earthy material in those areas.

They are ubiquitous in obese people and those who suffer from metabolic syndrome.

The following article explains the causes, symptoms, and treatment of acanthosis nigricans.

Other endocrine disorders

Some conditions such as thyroid disorders, menopause, pregnancy, and taking some contraceptives can cause alteration of the expected levels of some hormones, leading to the formation of brown spots on the skin called melasma. In other cases, clearer ones called chloasmas can occur.

Its appearance is more common in some areas of the face.

Liver diseases

Some liver disorders (including hemochromatosis ) can show as the first manifestation of the appearance of brown and dark spots on the Skin, which can affect the face or arms.


Ingestion of some medications can also cause brown spots on the Skin. We find estrogens, tetracyclines, amiodarone, phenytoin, phenothiazines, and sulfonamides.

How to remove brown spots on Skin – medical treatment

In most cases, the “treatment” is prevention. Anyone who knows that they will be exposed to the sun for long periods or short periods at certain times of the year should use sunscreen regardless of skin color. Sunscreen allows the modification of the UVA rays of sunlight to have no action or have diminished activity on the Skin.

Additionally, hats, caps, and umbrellas will help reduce sun damage.

In cases where brown spots on the Skin have already been established, their treatment will depend on the cause:

  • The + citrus sun exposure does not have the treatment and should only expect promptly (2 to 4 weeks) for stains to disappear spontaneously.
  • In hyperinsulinism, the control of insulin levels will lead to the progressive disappearance of the spots.
  • In the case of acanthosis nigricansmelasma, or chloasmas, washing the areas with bicarbonate will contribute to clarifying them. Still, of course, the hormonal control will lead to the final disappearance of the spots.
  • Proper control of liver diseases will contribute to the progressive disappearance of brown and dark spots from those areas of skin that have become hyperpigmented.
  • Suspending or adjusting the dose of the drugs will cause the skin pigmentation to regress to the normal state.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Brown and dark spots on the Skin: causes and how to eliminate them , we recommend that you enter our category of Skin, hair, and nails.

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