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Know what you’re dealing with before starting any treatment for brown spots on your legs. Many spots are completely harmless, but the Mayo Clinic warns that brown spots with darker speckles could be a warning sign of melanoma–the most serious form of skin cancer 1. Let a doctor take a look at any suspicious spots to get an expert opinion.
Age spots, sometimes known as liver spots, are usually found on those with fair skin, but no one is immune. These brown spots appear on parts of the body that have seen lots of exposure to the sun. The Mayo Clinic says they can be as small as a freckle or more than a centimeter in diameter 1.
If you don’t like the look of the spots, the Mayo Clinic says there are a number of treatments to try 1. There are prescription bleaching creams that can be used alone or with retinoids and a mild steroid. Laser therapy, cryotherapy and dermabrasion can all be performed to get rid of the spots. Mayo Clinic says chemical peels are another option 1. The peels literally burn away your old skin and make way for lighter new skin. If you want to try an over-the-counter remedy, Mayo Clinic recommends looking for a fade cream that contains hydroquinone, deoxyarbutin, glycolic acid or kojic acid 1.
- Age spots, sometimes known as liver spots, are usually found on those with fair skin, but no one is immune.
- If you don’t like the look of the spots, the Mayo Clinic says there are a number of treatments to try 1.
Causes of Dark Spots on Your Legs
Freckles are harmless, but some people just don’t like the look. While freckles usually appear on the face and arms, they can be found on the legs, too, or anywhere the skin has been exposed to the sun. The Cleveland Clinic says lighter-skinned people and those with light or red hair are most likely to freckle. You can help prevent the little brown spots from appearing in the first place by limiting time in the sun and using sunscreen. If that’s not enough, the Cleveland Clinic says you can just cover them with makeup.
- Freckles are harmless, but some people just don’t like the look.
- While freckles usually appear on the face and arms, they can be found on the legs, too, or anywhere the skin has been exposed to the sun.
The condition acanthosis nigricans sometimes precedes diabetes and can cause:
- tan or brown areas to appear on the neck
- elbows or knees
If diabetic dermopathy is the cause of the spots, no treatment is generally prescribed. Dermopathy often appears on the front of the legs as red or light brown, scaly patches.
Causes of Dark Spots on Your Legs
How to Treat Pigmentation on the Face
Brown Spots on the Legs of a Diabetic
How to Get Rid of Dark Skin on the Neck
What Causes Age Spots All Over the Legs & Arms?
What Causes Liver Spots on My Arms?
How to Get Rid of Hereditary Dark Eye Circles
Skin Discoloration on the Forehead
Skin Discoloration on the Legs
How Can I Make a Homemade Bleaching Cream for Age Spots?
- Mayo Clinic: Age Spots
- Mayo Clinic: Foot and Skin Related Complications of Diabetes
- American Academy of Dermatology. Variety of Options Available to Treat Pigmentation Problems. February 5, 2013. https://www.aad.org/media/news-releases/variety-of-options-available-to-treat-pigmentation-problems
- Tomecki J, Woodhouse G. Common Benign Growths. Cleveland Clinic Center for Continuing Education. http://www.clevelandclinicmeded.com/medicalpubs/diseasemanagement/dermatology/common-benign-growths/
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- Bastiaens M, Hoefnagel J, Westendorp R, Vermeer BJ, Bouwes bavinck JN. Solar lentigines are strongly related to sun exposure in contrast to ephelides. Pigment Cell Res. 2004;17(3):225-9. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0749.2004.00131.x
- Davis EC, Callender VD. Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation: a review of the epidemiology, clinical features, and treatment options in skin of color. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2010;3(7):20-31.
- George AO, Shittu OB, Enwerem E, Wachtel M, Kuti O. The incidence of lower mid-trunk hyperpigmentation (linea nigra) is affected by sex hormone levels. J Natl Med Assoc. 2005;97(5):685-8.
- Al-saif FM, Baqays AA, Alsaif HF, Alhumidi AA. Erythromelanosis follicularis faciei et colli with reticulated hyperpigmentation of the extremities. Clin Case Rep. 2017;5(10):1576-1579. doi:10.1002/ccr3.1095
- Dereure O. Drug-induced skin pigmentation. Epidemiology, diagnosis and treatment. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2001;2(4):253-62. doi:10.2165/00128071-200102040-00006
- Ammoury A, Michaud S, Paul C, et al. Photodistribution of blue-gray hyperpigmentation after amiodarone treatment: molecular characterization of amiodarone in the skin. Arch Dermatol. 2008;144(1):92-6. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2007.25
- Jain A, Gupta N. Multifocal Bullous Fixed Drug Erruption Due To Phenytoin: A Lesson Learned! J Clin Diagn Res. 2015;9(12):OD04-5. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2015/15464.6908
- Mccarty M, Rosso JQ. Chronic administration of oral trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole for acne vulgaris. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2011;4(8):58-66.
- Massinde A, Ntubika S, Magoma M. Extensive hyperpigmentation during pregnancy: a case report. J Med Case Rep. 2011;5:464. doi:10.1186/1752-1947-5-464
- Sarkar SB, Sarkar S, Ghosh S, Bandyopadhyay S. Addison's disease. Contemp Clin Dent. 2012;3(4):484-6. doi:10.4103/0976-237X.107450
- Lause M, Kamboj A, Fernandez faith E. Dermatologic manifestations of endocrine disorders. Transl Pediatr. 2017;6(4):300-312. doi:10.21037/tp.2017.09.08
- Enguita FJ, Leitão AL. Hydroquinone: environmental pollution, toxicity, and microbial answers. Biomed Res Int. 2013;2013:542168. doi:10.1155/2013/542168
- Arora P, Sarkar R, Garg VK, Arya L. Lasers for treatment of melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2012;5(2):93-103. doi:10.4103/0974-2077.99436
- Prohaska J, Badri T. Cryotherapy. StatPearls Publishing. 2019.
- Schalka S. New data on hyperpigmentation disorders. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2017;31 Suppl 5:18-21. doi:10.1111/jdv.14411
- American Academy of Dermatology. Variety of Options Available to Treat Pigmentation Problems. February 5, 2013.
- Tomecki J, Woodhouse G. Common Benign Growths. Cleveland Clinic Center for Continuing Education.
David Ochs spent 12 years as a radio announcer in Illinois, Missouri and Denver before a 23-year stint as a national broadcast sportswriter for The Associated Press. He's covered nine Olympics. It's likely you’ve heard a radio announcer reading one of his scripts. Since 2006 he has won multiple awards managing resource stewardship communications for the Fairfax County Park Authority in Virginia.