Many people can experience brown spots and pigment changes any point in their lives. Because it is a generic descriptive term, ‘brown spot’ can mean many things to different individuals. Generally, these are blemishes when too much melanin has been produced by the skin in a concentrated area. Occasionally, they can also refer to growths on the skin that has become pigmented.
Some of the common cases of ‘brown spots’ that our clinic treat are freckles, solar lentigo (age spots), melasma and actinic keratosis
Types Of Pigmentation
Freckles are small brown spots that tend to appear on the mid-face, cheeks. They tend to occur more in fair skinned individuals (e.g. Caucasians), but is getting increasingy common in Asians. Onset of development is from teenage years. Due to sun-exposure and sun-loving habits in this part of the world, we are seeing more and more patients presenting to the clinic with freckles.
This usually presents as a patch of darkened skin. Common in individuals after mid-30s, solar lentigo (or sun spot) is a result of exposure to UV rays, which finally results in accumulation of melanin within skin cells. They usually increase in numbers and size with age, thus they are sometimes called ‘aged spots’.
Solar lentigo usually occurs on face, and hands and forearms.
Melasma is a common skin pigmentary condition that causes brown, or gray discoloured patches of on the skin. It usually occurs on the face, and appears symmetrically on the cheeks, forehead, bridge of nose, above the upper lips. It can also appear on other parts of the body that has been chronically exposed to the sun.
ABNOM, or Hori’s naevus is a common skin pigmentation, particularly high incidence among Asian females. It is first described in 1984 by Hori et al. The usual presentation of Hori’s naevus is bluish-brown patches on both sides of the face. The usual age of onset is between 30s to 40s. The discolouration can range from mildly visible, to very obvious. It can occur at the same time with other pigmentation disorders like melasma or sun spots.
Different Pigmentation, Different Causes
As you can see, most pigmentation looks deceptively similar. However, because their risk factors and causes are different, different laser approaches and treatments need to be done for each of them.