When some patches of your skin become darker than their surroundings, they become visibly different. The dermatological term for this condition is “hyperpigmentation”. The term may sound heavy, but the condition is not an acute one. In fact, most people live their entire life with them. Nevertheless, we all love smooth and perfect skin, and let’s face it – sometimes the patches do mess with our beauty.
No need to be worried, this is a very common condition and happens to people of all ages. There are simple and effective treatments available as well as ways to prevent them, which we will discuss in detail in this article.
What is skin pigmentation
Hyperpigmentation occurs when somehow a patch of your skin starts producing more melanin than is normal for you, turning it darker. There are several types of hyperpigmentation that people suffer from – melasma, sun spots, age spots, freckles, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation etc.
Understand what cause pigmentation
Different types of pigmentation have different reasons behind them.
- Post-inflammatory pigmentation: This type of hyperpigmentation can occur if you have had any inflammatory skin conditions, like acne, burns, and psoriasis, involving the junction of the outermost layer of the skin (epidermis) and the layer beneath (dermis). Sometimes it can also happen because of some professional skin treatment gone wrong.
- Lentigines: These can be a result of a variety of things. Some occur at a very young age, and some others come after a certain age. Solar lentigines or sun spots appear because of excessive sun exposure, while age spots or liver spots simply come with aging.
- Melasma: This is known to come about as a result of hormonal changes, most commonly during pregnancy. Sometimes oral contraceptives can also be reasons behind them. This is more common and persistent among people with darker skin.
How to effectively avoid them
Now that you know the causes of hyperpigmentation, it would be much easier for you to prevent it.
1. When in the sun, protect yourself
The most reliable, effective, and fundamental measure to take against hyperpigmentation would be, as you may have already guessed, avoid the sun and UV light exposure.
- If you need to go into the sun, definitely apply sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 and keep reapplying it every 2 hours if you have to stay there.
- Wear a broad-brimmed hat and UV protective clothing for extra protection.
- Also, if you already have a pigmentation issue, it would be smart to avoid tanning booths and spray tans as well.
2. Take good care of your skin:
Create a well-researched skin-care routine for yourself and start taking better care of your skin, because let’s face it – pigmentation is at the end of the day your skin’s way of asking for help.
- Use gentle skincare products.
- Do not scratch, pick, or pop acne and blemishes on your skin. In case you already have some pigmentations on your body, resist the urge to pick on them if you do not want the mark to extend.
- Use an anti-inflammatory moisturizer, with your doctor’s recommendation, of course, to soothe the irritation caused by the pigmentation.
- A delicate full-body exfoliation once or twice a week does wonder for removing old skin cells which are discoloured, preventing long-term pigmentation.
3. Discuss your medications with your respective doctors
As mentioned earlier, some form of melasma is caused by certain medications.
- To be on the safe side, always ask and discuss the side-effects of any medication you are taking with your respective doctors or pharmacists.
- If you suspect your oral contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy, or any other hormonal treatment to be the culprit behind your hyperpigmentations, discontinue immediately and contact your doctor.
4. Find out your family history
Like a lot of conditions, melasma is thought to have a genetic element involved. Find out if any of your family members went through trouble like this. Since this concern is not backed by scientific research, talk to your doctor about your wariness.
5. Avoid certain beautification procedures:
Laser hair removal procedures are known to have hyperpigmentation as one of its side-effects. It only happens if the wrong temperature setting or a laser machine unsuitable for your skin was used, or an inexperienced technician performed it. If you have such a concern, immediately consult your dermatologist.
Be aware of the possible treatments
In case you are already suffering from hyperpigmentation, there are plenty of treatments available for curing hyperpigmentation. Let’s find out what they are –
1. Skin-lightening creams
You can use over-the-counter skin-lightening and brightening creams. The gel form topical treatment for skin lightening also work for your skin. These work best for melasma or age spots but can be effective for other types of hyperpigmentation as well. These are certainly effective, but they may take a long time to cure your skin.
Derived from Vitamin A, these are really effective forms of skincare which treat layers below your epidermis. However, the over-the-counter versions of them may be weaker; contact your dermatologist if you do not see results even after 2-3 months of application.
3. Chemical peel
A chemical peel is a procedure that uses strong acids to treat a particular area of your skin. They remove the epidermis, so the appearance of hyperpigmentation gets reduced.
- This is an artificial treatment with side-effects like redness, irritation, and blistering. So if you consider the procedure for yourself, it is best to get it done by a professional dermatologist.
- If you have to be outside in the sun for most parts of your day, this may not be the right way to go since Chemical peel makes your skin more sensitive to the sun’s harsh rays.
4. Laser skin resurfacing
A laser peel or resurfacing treatment uses a laser beam in targeted areas to reduce hyperpigmentation. This process works best with people having a lighter skin tone and has its side-effects like darkening the skin even further instead of lightening it. Discuss with a good dermatologist about the treatment and get compatibility tests done on yourself before you consider this treatment.
5. Procedures removing the superficial skin
Microdermabrasion is a procedure to remove the epidermis of your skin and dermabrasion is another similar procedure which treats your skin as deep as the dermis layer. It is an effective method for removing hyperpigmentation but may work better for fair-skinned people and also has side-effects. So consult an experienced and certified dermatologist only and discuss your compatibility with the procedure before sitting for it.
This is the 21st century – almost no issue is untreatable now, and hyperpigmentation is not a serious condition. It is avoidable, but more importantly, if contracted, it is easily and effectively treatable. Follow the instructions to avoid it, and make sure you consult only authentic and licensed clinics to get any procedure done. All the best to flawless skin!