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Black Spots on Skin: Causes, Treatments, Pictures, and More

CEO Tinh Phung
Dark spots on the skin can be a cause for concern, especially if they appear suddenly or change in appearance. While black spots on the skin can come in various forms and sizes, they can...

Dark spots on the skin can be a cause for concern, especially if they appear suddenly or change in appearance. While black spots on the skin can come in various forms and sizes, they can affect your face, shoulders, arms, or upper body. Some spots may resemble tiny black dots or a black rash, while others may be flat dark patches of skin or raised black bumps.

As we age, it is common for dark patches of skin to appear, particularly in areas exposed to the sun. For instance, older men who are bald often experience black spots on the scalp. Additionally, black spots on the face may be attributed to blackheads, scabies, or dark freckles. It is important to note that certain dermatological conditions can also cause dark spots on the skin, and in some cases, they may even be a sign of skin cancer.

Depending on the cause, black spots on the skin may be itchy or irritate the surrounding area. Scratching or itching these spots could lead to easy bleeding. It is crucial to address the underlying issue when treating black spots on the face or skin. Consulting a dermatologist is advisable, especially when dealing with black moles that appear to grow or possess irregular edges.

What Are Black Spots on Skin?

Black spots on the skin can generally be categorized into a few different types:

  1. Dark or black marks resulting from hyperpigmentation caused by melanin in the skin.
  2. Very dark skin growths that are typically harmless, such as skin tags or normal moles, but can occasionally be an early sign of skin cancer.
  3. Clogged pores that turn black when the air oxidizes the sebum plug in the pore.

Signs and Symptoms of Black Spots on Skin

Dark spots on the skin can vary in color, ranging from dark brown to black. Flat dark patches caused by hyperpigmentation are usually dark flat patches without any itching. These patches are commonly found on the face, scalp, arms, and neck.

Black skin spots can also appear as raised, itchy dark bumps. These mole-like spots come in various sizes and may seem to hang off the skin. Individuals with acne-prone skin may also experience raised red pimples or pustules filled with pus, rather than just tiny black dots on the surface.

Causes of Black Spots on Skin

Let’s delve into the various reasons why black spots appear on the skin, and explore effective treatments to either eliminate or reduce their appearance.

Age Spots (Liver Spots or Sun Spots)

Age spots are small, flat, dark patches that typically appear on sun-exposed areas like the face and back of the hands. Contrary to their name, age spots are not caused by a liver disorder. These dark skin patches result from excessive sun exposure over several years, causing the melanin present in the skin's cells to form dark brown or black patches. Other chemicals in the skin can also combine with melanin to create dark patches of skin in varying tones. The best way to manage age spots is by limiting sun exposure, using sunscreen with a high SPF, and wearing protective clothing.

Normal Moles and Beauty Marks

Raised black spots on the skin may simply be normal moles or beauty marks. These dark growths can appear anywhere on the body and come in diverse colors, including black and brown. They may be flat or have an uneven surface, and can also occur in groups or clusters. Monitoring any changes in existing moles is important, as melanoma can develop within them.


Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can develop within existing moles or as new moles. It can present itself as an itchy or sore mole, exhibit signs of spreading, become red, ooze fluid, bleed easily, or look scaly. If you notice any of these warning signs, consult a dermatologist to determine if the mole is cancerous.

To differentiate between a normal mole and melanoma, you can use the ABCDE system:

  • Asymmetrical: Melanoma spots have two irregularly shaped halves.
  • Border: Melanoma spots exhibit blurred or irregular borders.
  • Color: Melanoma spots have uneven coloring, with shades of black, brown, or light brown along with other colors.
  • Diameter: Most melanomas are larger than 1/4 inch (6 mm).
  • Evolving: Melanoma spots change in size or appearance over time.

Melanoma vs. Liver Spots

Melanoma can also resemble darkened patches of skin known as liver spots or age spots. While true age spots are typically harmless, changes in their appearance may indicate a need for medical attention. Use the ABCDE system to differentiate between melanoma and liver spots.


Freckles are flat spots caused by deposits of melanin under the skin. They can vary in color, ranging from yellow to dark brown or black. Lentigines, a type of freckle, can cause darker freckles that do not fade in the winter. Freckles usually appear in sun-exposed areas and can be managed by avoiding overexposure to sunlight.

Sun Damage

Excessive sun exposure can damage the skin, leading to hyperpigmentation and the formation of dark patches. Melanin pigments offer some protection against the sun's harmful rays, but prolonged exposure can result in dark pigmented patches on the skin.

Flat Black Spots on the Lips

Dark brown or black spots on the lips may be labial lentigines, caused by sun damage. These flat dark patches usually appear on the center section of the lower lip.


Tiny black dots, commonly found on the nose, cheeks, or forehead, are known as blackheads. They are caused by clogged hair follicles, where sebum gets trapped and oxidizes when exposed to air. Effective natural remedies for blackheads include exfoliating clogged pores and using DIY face masks or peel-off masks for blackhead removal.

Skin Tags

Skin tags are small, harmless growths that can become black spots on the skin. They often appear on the neck, eyelids, under the breasts, or in the armpits. Skin tags can be safely removed using various methods, such as apple cider vinegar or hydrogen peroxide.

Dermatosis Papulose Nigra

Dermatosis papulose nigra is a skin condition characterized by small black spots or papules that typically affect dark-skinned individuals. These spots are generally found on the cheeks, forehead, upper back, or chest, and no specific treatment exists for them.


Angiokeratomas are raised dark lesions that can appear as small dark purple or red spots on the genitals or upper thighs. Although they are generally harmless, these lesions may bleed easily when scratched or damaged.


Melasma is a condition characterized by the appearance of dark skin patches on the face, temples, forehead, or upper lip. It is often attributed to hormonal changes, such as those occurring during pregnancy or as a result of hormonal therapy. Melasma typically doesn't cause itching and can be managed by treating the underlying hormonal imbalance.

Other Causes of Black Spots or Dots on the Skin

  • Bruising: Injury to the body can cause a black patch to develop under the skin as a result of broken blood vessels. Applying a cold pack immediately can help prevent bruising.
  • Scabies: Scabies is a skin infestation that causes a highly itchy red rash. Scabies mites can appear as tiny black dots on the skin. Natural remedies such as tea tree oil or neem oil can be used to treat scabies.
  • Warts from sexually transmitted diseases: Some sexually transmitted diseases can cause dark warts with a cauliflower-like surface. These warts usually affect the genitals.
  • LEOPARD syndrome: A rare genetic disorder characterized by multiple lentigines (black or dark brown spots on the skin), along with abnormalities in various parts of the body such as the heart, inner ear, head and facial area, and genitals.

Tiny Black Dots on the Skin

Tiny black dots can appear on the skin for various reasons and are generally not a cause for alarm. Possible causes include blackheads forming in blocked sweat glands or hair follicles, tiny dark moles, lentigines (small black dots), or a scabies infestation. It is essential to determine the underlying cause before deciding on the appropriate treatment.

How to Treat Black Spots on the Face and Skin

Treating black spots on the skin requires addressing the root cause. Hyperpigmentation can be challenging to treat, so consulting a dermatologist is highly recommended. Chemical peels or harsh topical treatments may irritate the skin, resulting in discomfort and redness. Patience is key when dealing with uneven skin tone or dark spots. Natural remedies such as lemon juice or aloe vera can help lighten the appearance of dark patches, but consistent application is necessary. It is important to address underlying issues such as blackheads or scabies to effectively treat black spots on the skin.

When to See a Doctor

If a black spot on your skin changes in appearance, it is advisable to seek medical attention. Regularly checking existing moles and black skin bumps for any signs of change is crucial. Additionally, new black, red, or pink moles should be assessed by a medical professional. Warning signs to look for include heavily pigmented bumps or moles, growth in size, irregular borders or signs of spreading, various colors, and irritation, itching, or easy bleeding.

Remember to prioritize your skin's health and consult a dermatologist if you have any concerns about black spots on your skin. With proper care and attention, you can keep your skin looking healthy and radiant.