The skin is the largest organ in the body that not only has the capacity to house one of our most complex senses, such as touch, but it is also the site of expression of local and systemic diseases.
Over the years the skin has been studied to develop novel treatments in order to maintain its vitality, health and beauty.
Lesions of different colors and sizes, known as spots, can appear on the skin , which can cause discomfort such as pain or itching and can also alert us that there are widespread diseases in our body that must be treated.
What do the spots on the skin mean?
The spots on the skin, also known as macules, are flattened lesions circumscribed in the skin that generate changes in its pigment or coloration, they can be darker (called hyperchromic) or lighter (hypochromic) than the healthy skin that surrounds them.
The change in color can be associated with itching, irritation and the appearance of scales, and can appear suddenly or progressively. In this article we will describe six types of skin blemishes and what they mean.
1. Cafe au lait spots in newborns
They are brown, café-au-lait, well-defined moles with irregular edges, totally asymptomatic, which can be distributed along the newborn's skin. They can measure from a few millimeters to more than 20 centimeters.
If they are present in small amounts, they are totally harmless and tend to disappear without treatment over the years, but if they appear more than 5 or 6 they may be an expression of a genetic disease called neurofibromatosis (which causes the growth of neurological tumors); therefore, it is important that the newborn is evaluated by a pediatrician to start treatment for the underlying disease.
2. Dark spots on the face
Its scientific name is chloasma or melasma, which in some countries are known as "mask or pregnant cloth". They are brown, dark spots that appear on the forehead, nose, chin, lips and cheeks of pregnant women due to changes in the levels of hormones such as progesterone and estrogen and are often exacerbated by exposure to the sun.
They do not hurt or itch, but they are aesthetically uncomfortable and usually disappear when the woman gives birth. You can see more information about lip stains.
As they are the product of hormonal changes, they can also be seen in women who take birth control pills and during menopause. Some spots persist over time and require specific dermatological treatments.
The use of sunscreen is recommended before its appearance, even used after its appearance to prevent the stain from turning darker. Once the pregnancy is over, the dermatologist can perform lightening creams, peels and laser treatment.
3. Spots on the face in the shape of butterfly wings
These spots are known as malar erythema. They are generally related to autoimmune diseases, especially Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. It appears as a reddened plaque on both cheeks and nose of the person when exposed to the sun, is accompanied by a burning sensation and can sometimes itch.
As malar erythema is an expression of a systemic cause, treatment should be indicated by an internist or rheumatologist to control the disease that produces it, generally using steroids.
4. Dark spots in the folds of the body
These spots are known as acanthosis nigricans and appear in the folds of the neck, armpits, breast folds and groin, it is produced by hyperpigmentation that is observed in people with peripheral insulin resistance, polycystic ovary syndrome and diabetes mellitus.
It should be indicated by the internist or endocrinologist, who control the underlying disease, improving insulin and blood glucose levels. In turn, the dermatologist may indicate lightening creams to improve the lesions.
5. Light spots on the body that do not itch
It is called Pityriasis alba, when they show scaling and are distributed in patches on the face, trunk and extremities. They generally appear in children and adolescents, after sun exposure.
Until now the exact cause of its origin is not known, but some hypotheses point out that it is due to the coexistence of some germs, the use of substances that are aggressive to the skin, sun exposure and atopic dermatitis (or skin allergy).
It is based on moisturizers, emollient and antiallergic substances indicated by the dermatologist.
6. Light spots on the body that itch
There are many causes of this type of spots, but Pityriasis versicolor is the most common. It is caused by a fungus and usually manifests as droplet discolored areas on the person's chest and arms.
The dermatologist must make a differential diagnosis between ringworm of the skin, seborrheic dermatitis, lichen planus and vitiligo.
The dermatologist must examine the lesions, take samples and view them under the microscope, subsequently indicating treatment with local antifungal agents.
Youthful, beautiful skin doesn’t happen by chance; it takes some work. No matter what type of skin your parents have, your genes are only a small part of the equation. As the years go by, the signs of aging start to affect your body and skin is no exception. Thankfully, there are easy ways to slow down the aging process and prevent damage to your skin. That’s because damage can also be caused by a wide range of factors such as sun exposure, your diet, and stress.