Can Skin Lightening Treatments Be Used On Cafe-au-lait Spots?


clarins-modelCafe-au-lait marks are caused from pigmentation which is the process of chemical reactions in the skin from enzymes known as tyosinase. Pigmentation is produced in the cells of the skin the melanin which is the color pigment found in the epidermis on basal level will be disturbed and this will cause the color to spread to the next cells.

Pigmentation Disorders

There are two types of pigmentation disorders:

Hyper pigmentation

This can be caused from side effects of certain medications where there will be an abnormal distribution of excess production in melanin in the skin. Dark patches will appear on the skins surface.

Hypo pigmentation

This disorder appears when there is a decrease in the production levels of melanin, discolored white patches will appear on the skin.

Below are the common types of pigmented lesions found in children and adults:


  • Brown spots or birthmarks known as cafe- au- lait marks
  • Freckles
  • Blue or black marks known as Ota’s naevus
  • Moles known as congenital melanocyctic
  • Speckled moles known as lentiginous naevus
  • Brown patches known as Becker’s naevus
  • Blue marks known as Mongolian spots


  • Freckles
  • Melasma caused from sun damage or hormones present in pregnancy
  • Hyper pigmentation marks caused from certain medications or treatments such as chemical peels or contact dermatitis
  • Brown spots caused from sun damage known as solar lentigenes

Birthmarks present on the face from childhood are known as either Ota’s naevus or cafe- au -lait marks. Below are some of the treatments available for different types of cafe- au- lait blemishes.

Pigment laser therapy can be used on cafe- au- lait marks that are brown in color. The laser used is known as NdYag or NeodyniumYag which uses a particular wavelength that works on the melanin to lighten the appearance of the mark.

The laser has the ability to work effectively on the spot without causing any damage to the surrounding skin. It is necessary to treat birthmarks or cafe- au- lait marks that have been diagnosed as cancerous.

To maintain the cafe- au- lait mark it is necessary to care for the skin in a number of ways to ensure that the spot remains protected and to avoid the spot from darkening. It is highly recommended to keep the spot out of the sun and to use a sun block at times that the spot will be exposed to the sun’s rays.

Various Skin Lightening Treatments Available with Laser Therapy

Neodymium Laser– This is the best type of laser therapy to use on cafe- au- lait marks that are brown in color. Generally up to six treatments will need to be used on each spot the average cost of these treatments range up to $500 per a session.

IPL Laser– This laser is used on birthmarks that are red in color usually a minimum of two sessions will be required to lighten the color of the birthmark. The average cost of each session will be in the region of $300.

Pulsed Dye (Laser) – Birthmarks that have the appearance of port wine or strawberry hemangiomas that are vascular in type are best treated with a pulse dye therapy laser. The amount of treatments will depend on the severity of the spot. The sessions can cost up to $1,600.

Q switched (Laser) – This laser is the most effective type of treatment for cafe- au- lait birthmarks. It works best on spots that are brown in color. Six treatments will be needed to result in a desirable effect. The sessions are in the region of $500.

Maintaining your Cafe- au- lait mark after a lightning Treatment:

  • Use an AHA cleanser in the morning followed by a sun block that has an SPF of at least 25.
  • At night use creams that contain tretinoin such as Retin A with combined bleaching agents to maintain the color of your mark.
  • Use of a chemical peel once every two weeks can help to exfoliate the skin and rid the surface of dead skin cells.

Sun block will need to be used on daily basis in order to protect the skin and prevent the pigmentation mark from becoming darker again.The skin will need to stay out of sunlight as UV rays can cause pigmentation in the the skins surface.


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