Which Chemical Peel for Old Marks and Blemishes on Legs?

I'm African-American (brown/dark skinned) and I have really bad marks and blemishes from old mosquito bites from the Carribean. I'm so self-conscious, I can't wear shorts or skirts! Which chemical peel would help me? Please help!

Doctor Answers 4

A tinture of time, sunscreen, and hydroquinone

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While chemical peels are very effective for many types of dark spots, they are not very effective for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation on the legs.  Darker skin type patients are more prone to dark spots after bug bites/ acne/ etc.  We call this post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation-- as the inflammation from the bug bite causes excess melanin production in the area.  

In this situation, I would caution against doing any peels, as this can cause further inflammation and more pigmentation.  The legs, particularly, are not very forgiving-- they do not respond well to chemical peels unlike the face.  Give it some time-- these will fade on their own.  To speed up the process, I will sometimes prescribe a low strength bleaching cream such as hydroquinone.  Sun protection is a must-- as the more sun you get, the darker these spots will be.  

Best of Luck!

-Dr. Mann

Cleveland Dermatologic Surgeon

Beta peel may work for dark spots on the legs

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While most doctors shy away from treating skin of color with peels (due to risk of hypo or hyperpigmentation) you may want to consider a beta lift. Legs are harder to peel than the face, but with dermabrasion, hydroquinone and beta lift peels, you may experience lightening and some success. The key will be several treatments over time.  Good luck!

Kavita Mariwalla, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon

Not recommended.

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Chemical peels are unpredictable in darkly pigmented skin and in the legs. I would not recommend them.


Best Regards,


John Di Saia MD

John P. Di Saia, MD
Orange Plastic Surgeon

Post-inflammatory pigmentation in ethnic skin requires potent prescription-strength bleaching cream

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You are probably better with strict daily sun protection, potent prescription strength bleaching cream, and/or glycolic acid topical preparation under supervision of a board-certified dermatologist.

William Ting, MD
Bay Area Dermatologic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

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