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Brown Pigmentation on the Upper Lip

By Lynne Sheldon ; Updated July 18, 2017

Skin of all types and colors can develop areas of irregular pigmentation. However, as your skin ages, you become more prone to brown spots or splotches. African-Americans, in particular, can experience a condition known as hyperpigmentation, which causes brown patches to appear on the skin. Both of these discolorations can often be lightened with certain creams and are not serious medical problems. If you notice a suspicious-looking or sudden brown spot, however, consult a dermatologist.

Identification

Age spots, also known as liver spots, are flat areas of brown pigmentation that show up on your hands, chest and face, including your upper lip. They occur naturally as you get older, are often only a cosmetic concern and are more noticeable on those with lighter skin, says DermNet NZ. Hyperpigmentation is characterized by dark spots or larger areas of brown splotching on the face and body, and it occurs most frequently after a cut or other injury and on people with darker skin tones.

Causes

A lifetime of sun exposure can result in age spots, says the American Academy of Dermatology. The sun causes your skin to produce more melanin, the pigmentation in darker skin, and as you get older, this skin damage becomes more noticeable. Hyperpigmentation, on the other hand, is a skin discoloration left over after a cut or blemish has healed on your upper lip. It can also be an inflammatory reaction to acne or result from an allergic reaction to a product you are using.

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Treatments

You can fade age spots by applying a retinoid cream prescribed by your doctor. This product will increase skin cell renewal and help lighten your brown spots. Hyperpigmentation often fades over time, but you can speed up this process by applying a retinoid cream as well, according to DermNet NZ. Apply this product at night after washing and drying your face. Both age spots and hyperpigmentation can darken when exposed to the sun, and applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily can help prevent this.

Considerations

Age spots and hyperpigmentation can often be confused for melanoma, a type of skin cancer. Talk to a dermatologist about any brown spots that appear suddenly on your upper lip, or that have an irregular border or appear to be made up of more than one color. She can examine the spot and determine what actions need to be taken.

Warnings

Retinoid creams make your skin more sensitive to the sun, and applying sunscreen daily is essential while using them. You may experience burning or peeling when you first apply the cream, and this typically lessens over a few weeks of treatment. If it does not, or if you experience an allergic reaction, stop using the cream and get medical help.

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