Dark spots on the skin

Dark spots on the skin can be the result of various skin diseases.

How does a dark spot develop on the skin?
The melanocytes (pigment cells) are located in the epidermis and produce melanin.
This substance protects the cells from solar radiation, otherwise the cellular DNA could be damaged.
Some skin cells, called keratinocytes, bring the melanin to the surface of the skin.
In people with dark skin, the melanocytes produce more melanin than in fair-skinned people.
Light skin arises due to:

  • decreased amount of melanin,
  • malfunctioning melanocytes.

Darker patches of skin (areas of skin that tan faster) occur in:

  • increased amount of melanin,
  • hyperactive melanocytes.

Melanin production increases sharply after exposure to UV radiation, for example when sunbathing.
Melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH), which is produced in the pituitary gland (pituitary gland), also stimulates melanocytes to produce melanin.
The hormonal action of estrogens is responsible for the pigmentation of nipples, vulva and abdomen (linea nigra):

  • during pregnancy,
  • after taking medications.

Some diseases cause:

  • generalized or local hyperpigmentation (darker skin),
  • hypopigmentation (lighter skin),
  • Achromia (loss of color).

Estrogen level fluctuations can affect skin color, possible causes include:

  • Contraceptive pill
  • Pregnancy.

According to Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, clinical dermatology assistant at George Washington University, pigmentation changes each hau color, but in different ways:

  • People with lighter skin tend to develop freckles and dark spots.
  • People with darker skin develop shades or irregular spots.

Among the symptoms that occur along with darker skin is itching.


Dark spots on lips and gums

These can have many causes.

  1. Some people have dark lips since birth.
  2. Dark spots on the lips may be caused by a benign disorder called lenticular mucocutaneous hyperpigmentation or Laugier-Hunziker-Baran syndrome, which produces one or more spots that resemble freckles or moles.
  3. The pigmentation in the mouth area and especially the gums can also be a side effect of smoking.
  4. Also, the following bad habits can cause spots on the lip:
    • biting on the lips,
    • excessive exposure to sunlight.
  5. Dark spots can form around the lips when using cosmetics that contain photosensitizing substances and make the skin more sensitive to light. The dark spots form because the skin of the lips is very sensitive and is particularly exposed to sunlight.

Dark spots under the eyes

  • Often the black spots are pigmented dark circles under the eyes. These dark circles are darker because there is an increased concentration of melanin. They can be the result of scars after surgery or trauma.
    Sometimes the problem can be hereditary.
  • The dark spots are often caused by fatigue or hormonal changes in the body.
  • Purple spots can appear when the blood vessels under the eyes dilate. This spot is located under the skin and under the entire eye.
  • Dehydration can make the skin thinner and cause dark spots under the eyes.
  • Those who suffer from anemia have pale skin and dark spots under the eyes.

Dark spots on the face

Often dark facial spots appear in visible zones, such as in the area of:

  • Forehead
  • Moustache
  • Cheeks.


  1. Sun exposure is one of the most common causes of:
    • dark spots,
    • age spots on the face,
    • Freckles.
  2. Sometimes causes of dark spots are also traumas that can cause a hematoma.
  3. In addition, hormonal changes (for example, in menopause) may appear as dark facial spots.
  4. Some skin conditions, such as eczema or erythema, can cause this blemish.

Pigmentation of the skin on the neck

  • As a rule, excessive sun exposure leads to increased pigmentation and thus to a brown discoloration of the skin on the neck. This happens when there is an endogenous overproduction of the pigment melanin. When it reacts with sunlight, the skin of the neck becomes dark.
  • Also, a high iron level causes a color change of the skin, which can appear immediately on the neck.
    With excessive iron levels in the blood or hemochromatosis, the skin may take on a brownish or grayish color.
  • After taking photosensitizing medication, a skin change may appear in the predominantly sun-exposed skin areas.
    These drugs include:

    • Contraceptive
    • Hormone replacement therapy
    • antibiotics (e.g. tetracycline),
    • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. ibuprofen).

Dark spots on the chest

  1. Some skin irritations can manifest as dark spots anywhere on the body, including on the chest.
    These include warts caused by the human papillomavirus.
  2. Dark breast spots may be caused by the melasma or chloasma, a skin change tied to hormonal fluctuations in pregnancy.
    Melasma is more common in dark-skinned women and causes dark spots in areas that are more exposed to the sun, especially on the face. It occurs mainly in summer.
  3. Women who expose their breasts directly to the sun can observe many small brown spots and dots around the nipples; often these are freckles, which would have to increase during further stays in the sun and disappear after a few days.

Dark spots on the skin of the vulva

In the vulvar area, dark spots may be caused by benign or malignant diseases:
1. nevus or birthmark;
2. melanosis (freckles of the mucosa), the spots are very small and smooth;
3. wart caused by HPV, one or more skin elevations (condylomas) are formed;
4. Tumor of the vulva. Also available:

  • Itch
  • Burn
  • abnormal and foul-smelling discharge.

Dark spots on the leg and groin

  1. Dark spots on the leg may be caused by insect bites or indicate a skin condition such as eczema.
    You see them especially in the elderly.
  2. Sensitivity to light or an allergic reaction to the sun is another cause of darkening of the skin on the legs.
  3. The dark spots can also develop after excessive melanin production due to an allergic reaction or excess iron in the blood.
  4. Erythema nodosum is an inflammatory disease that causes dark, coarse and raised nodules in the skin.
  5. If dark spots form in the groin area and under the armpits, this may be irritation due to friction or hair removal with wax.
  6. Venous insufficiency can cause large dark spots on the skin on legs and ankles and can also cause swelling.

Hyperpigmentation of the skin during pregnancy

During pregnancy, many women develop brown spots on the face.
The brown spots are also known as chloasma, they develop mainly on:

  • Forehead
  • Cheeks
  • Nose
  • upper lip (mustache area),
  • Chin.

Due to the special shape, they are also called “pregnancy mask”.
The dark spots also form in places of high friction:

  • among the poor,
  • on the inside of the thighs,
  • in the groin.

During pregnancy, a brown line (linea nigra) appears, which extends from the navel to the pubic bone.
Before pregnancy, it is called “linea alba”, is skin-colored and therefore invisible.
During pregnancy, this line turns brown and is about half a centimeter wide; it disappears again in a few months after childbirth.
Some women observe a change in color:

  • the spots on arms and legs.,
  • of the areolas around the nipples, they become darker.

Dark spots on the skin in children

There are skin diseases or even normal phenomena that cause dark spots, for example:
1. freckles (they form when the child is in the sun);
2. Mongolian spot of the newborn (it forms above the buttocks and is present at birth, but then passes spontaneously at the age of about 4 years);
3. Acanthosis nigricans (a skin condition that preferably affects children and adolescents and causes dark spots on thickened and dry skin);
4. Naevus, it prefers to form on the chest, abdomen and back;
5. Melanoma.

Dark spots on the big toenail

Fingernails and toenails may be brown or black in the case of:

  • trauma causing a bruise,
  • Melanoma
  • Infection by fungi.

Hyperpigmentation of the skin in acne

Acne is the main cause of hyperpigmentation of the skin.
It should be avoided to express pimples or blackheads.
One can apply a dermatologist-recommended gel or cream against acne to the affected areas to eliminate the pimple.
With patience and non-contact of the pimples, it is possible to prevent:

Another reason is the appearance of severe acne.
In this case, pustules and nodules also develop in the skin and it is easy to form:

  • Brown
  • Red
  • black scars.

Here the acne must be combated in a different way.

A deficiency of important vitamins in the diet in acne can contribute to hyperpigmentation.

Against scarring in acne you can use various home remedies:

  • Diet rich in vegetables and fresh fruits.
  • Cardiovascular training 20-30 minutes daily.
    Exercise helps to eliminate toxins from the body through sweat. Do not rub the skin to dry the sweat, as this could irritate the skin and worsen the pimples.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Avoid stress, because it aggravates acne.
  • Regularly wash the face and keep free of oil and powder, these two substances are the main causes of inflammation in acne.

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