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Dark spots, also known as age spots or hyperpigmentation, are very common and almost always harmless. They are caused by an overproduction of melanin or skin pigment. The likelihood of getting dark spots tends to increase with age, particularly in those who have spent a good amount of time in the sun over the years. Dark spots can appear almost overnight and, since they are associated with aging, most people look for ways to erase or minimize their appearance.

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Causes of Dark Spots

While UV light exposure, both from the sun and from artificial light in tanning beds, is a major factor in most cases of dark spots, it's far from the only cause. Other causes include pregnancy, aging, some diseases like melasma and liver disease, some medications like estrogen and tetracyclines, and the presence of pituitary tumors.

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Lemon Juice

One common home remedy for dark spots is to apply lemon juice to the affected area. Lemon juice is gentle to the skin and acts to lightly bleach the area, making the dark spots less noticeable. For best results, you should repeat this procedure at least once a week, but not more than four times a week.

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Aloe Vera

Another effective home remedy for dark spots is to apply aloe vera to the area. Aloe Vera is a common succulent plant and contains vitamins A, C, and, E, all of which are helpful in evening skin tone. To apply, cut off a stalk of the aloe vera plant and run the liquid inside directly on your skin.

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Apple Cider Vinegar

Helping to get rid of dark spots on your face is just one of many good uses for apple cider vinegar. This household staple is rich in alpha hydroxy acid, which helps to get rid of dead skin cells. In addition, apple cider vinegar contains lots of vitamins and minerals to keep skin looking fresh.

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Retinoid Products

There are a number of prescription medications that contain retinoid, a potent, pharmaceutical form of vitamin A. This vitamin helps to remove dead skin cells and also to curb the body's production of melanin, the cause of dark spots. There are also a number of over-the-counter beauty products that contain retinol, a less potent form of retinoid.

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Glycolic Acid

Glycolic Acid is another good remedy for dark spots. This ingredient is found in soaps and lotions and contains an alpha hydroxy acid that acts as a natural exfoliate, promoting the shedding of dry and dead skin cells. Dermatologists recommend using a glycolic acid product with a concentration of at least 10 percent.

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Microdermabrasion

This beauty treatment is available from most salons and also as a do-it-at-home product from better skincare companies. It works by exfoliating the skin and removing dead and dry skin cells without harming the healthy skin cells below. It is recommended that you do this treatment no more than twice a week.

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Kojic Acid

Kojic acid, derived from mushrooms or fermented rice, is another natural skin lightener. It works by suppressing the production of melanin in the cells. It is recommended that you use this product at nighttime, since there is a possibility of a dermatitis flare-up Results with kojic acid are gradual, and it takes between two and three months to see results.

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Preventing Dark Spots

Avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun, staying away from tanning beds and always remembering to wear sunscreen with at least SPF30 before going out in the sun is the best way to prevent dark spots from appearing on your face. Furthermore, wearing sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat can help keep harmless UV rays away from your face.

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When to See a Doctor for Dark Spots

Dark spots are seldom serious. However, rarely a dark spot could be a sign of cancer. If you are prone to dark spots on your face and elsewhere on your body, it is a good idea to have your spots checked one a year by your dermatologist. He or she can perform a simple biopsy on any spots that may look suspicious.

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