Are OTC Creams Effective Against Dark Spots?
Sharon, my childhood friend just celebrated her 45th birthday last week. We were discussing about some of our frustrations and she mentioned about the dark patches on her face and hands.
She talked about how she used to spend her summers at the pool oogling at the cute boys while soaking up the sun. I’m not surprised that all those hours in the sun could be the reason for her current skin problem.
My friend chose to use an OTC fade cream to improve her condition. She mentioned that it has alpha hydroxy acid and that is why she bought it. However, she has yet to see any improvement on her spots.
The ideal treatment would be cosmetic surgery. However, that is not an option with her current financial situation. I can tell she still have hopes in finding an OTC remedy to fade her dark spots. So, is there really a product that works in getting rid of sun spots?
Many skin specialist believe that the creams you buy at the store are not potent enough to effectively get rid of brown spots. It doesn’t surprise me that they have such low regards for it though. Unlike medications, OTC products don’t have to go through rigorous testing before they can go on the market.
Mild treatments will not be effective on age spots that are the result of sun damage. A majority of doctors will recommend laser resurfacing especially when it comes to a full facial treatments. Here are some examples of such treatments: Sciton tunable erbium laser, DOT Co2 and Fraxel Restore Dual. GentleLase laser, IPL (intense pulse light) and Q-switched Yag laser is generally used of spot treatments. You want a cheaper option to laser, there is liquid nitrogen.
It is a sad fact that the success rate of OTC skin lightening products are quite low. Lots of hyped up marketing but most don’t do what they claim. On the other hand, the Obagi System seems to surpass people’s expectations. Even some dermatologists recommend it. What I’m hearing is that it really helps with skin damaged skin and makes your skin look amazing enough for other people to notice a difference.
Obagi Nu-Derm System uses both tretinoin and hydroquinone to visibly lighten age spots. The combination of ingredients found in the various products work synergistically to clarify your skin. This way is not super expensive. In fact, it is cheaper than other cosmetic treatments that treat serious pigmentation conditions. Furthermore, its results are backed by medical science.
Do not think the only sure way for you is through laser treatment. The Obagi System might exceed your expectation but you must first carry out their directions with exactness.
The purpose of hydroquinone in the Obagi system is to lighten the areas that have pigmentation problems. It works by hindering your skin’s ability to produce melanin. With hydroquinone, your skin is prevented from synthesizing melanin because it blocks the enzyme needed for the process. Apart from that, it also has cytotoxic effects on melanoctyes. It can damage these pigment producing cells. You need to be patient as the fading process does take some time.
Studies show that the prolonged usage of hydroquinone can cause toxicity. Some countries have already banned its inclusion in OTC products altogether.
What is the FDA’s take on it? Well, they allow you to use it but not more than 3 months straight. The bad news is that it is too short a period to really know whether it is having any effect on your skin or not. The more severe your skin damage, the more time you’ll need. Definitely it will take more than 3 months for your brown spots to fade if they were caused by countless years of sun bathing.
You don’t have to rely on hydroquinone alone. When combined with vitamin C, retinol creams and glycolic acid, you have a more powerful treatment plan. These other ingredients can easily be found in skin care creams and serums. Eventually, you may observe your skin tone evening out. The gentle exfoliation by these products will allow hydroquinone to penetrate deeper. Just remember that it will take some time to see the reduction of the dark spots. Still, in the end, it really cannot top what laser treatments can do. Maybe, you can approach your problem with laser and support that with other types of skin treatments such as face peels, microdermabrasion or even natural solutions.
If the OTC products fail to remove sunspots, then you need an aggressive treatment option. Retin A and hydroquinone are very effective but are usually available only through prescription. Some people’s skin may not be able to stand hydroquinone. It could get irritated. In that case, tretinoin cream may be more suitable. It is found to be effective in fading these spots.
Not all dermatologist are of the opinion that creams containing 4% hydroquinone can effectively clear the skin of spots. It all comes down to how badly your skin have been damaged by the sun.
Therefore, it would be in your best interest to get the opinion of a credible dermatologist with vast experience in your type of skin problem. Do this before you decide on a treatment plan. Do you know for sure if your spots are not an indication of a more serious underlying condition?
Years of sun bathing can increase the risk of skin cancer. Dark spots in itself do not pose a health risk. It doesn’t spread like cancer. What you should know is that the spots, like any other cells, can turn cancerous later on. There is no medical problem when it is just hyperpigmentation. What the sun does to your skin is the problem. The dangerous rays of the sun is what causes changes to your skin.
Your health insurance should cover the expenses involved in this type of skin evaluation. You can file your insurance for a medical dermatology visit. You don’t have to pay a lot for consultation. So even if the money has to come out of your own pocket, it is still affordable.
If you are fortunate enough to find an OTC skin brightener that works for you, try not to let any more new brown spots emerge. You need to minimize sun exposure. You need a good sunblock lotion with at least SPF 30. Make sure it is broad-spectrum. Even if the blotches have faded, you must continue to use sunblock rigorously. Let’s say you managed to solve your skin problem. With continued sun exposure, it is likely your age spots will return. Believe what I’m saying here. You’ll appreciate how the sunblock helps your skin’s complexion after you’ve used it for some time. Your skin will be the prove of that. If left alone, untreated brown spots can fade a little by themselves. That doesn’t mean you can be lazy. How hard can it be to put on sunblock lotion? Do it. retin a cream uk