Hyperpigmentation is a blanket term that refers to a very common type of skin discoloration. Typically, hyperpigmentation manifests as dark spots or patches, but it can take a variety of different and equally aggravating forms.
You are not alone if you are noticing newly formed dark spots or if hyperpigmentation has always been a problem for you. Almost everyone will experience some form of hyperpigmentation at some point in their lives. Despite its widespread prevalence, however, it can be extremely difficult to treat.
To discuss hyperpigmentation in detail, including the various types and treatment options.
How is hyperpigmentation defined?
Whether it's due to excessive sun exposure, an eczema flare-up, or a particularly bad breakout, all forms of hyperpigmentation have their origins in melanin, the pigment found in our skin. Melanin is produced by melanocytes, which reside in the epidermis, or outermost layer of the skin.
Hyperpigmentation is caused by an abnormal distribution of melanin in the skin. The skin can be induced to produce an excessive amount of the pigment melanin for a variety of reasons, the most common being sun exposure. When our skin is unprotected from the sun's rays, melanocytes are naturally stimulated to produce more melanin — this is our body's way of protecting itself.
When the pigment is evenly distributed, it appears as a 'tan,' but as sun exposure increases, the pigment becomes increasingly unevenly distributed. This uneven distribution of pigment is referred to as hyperpigmentation, and it can take the form of freckles, age spots, or even melasma, a type of hyperpigmentation believed to be influenced by hormones.
The sun is not the only factor that can stimulate melanin production. Pimples and rashes can also cause pigmentation to be disrupted. Hyperpigmentation post-inflammatory refers to discoloration that persists following generalised skin inflammation or trauma, such as acne.
What types of hyperpigmentation are there?
We've already discussed the various types of discoloration, but here's a handy guide to understanding the characteristics of each.
1. Age spots: This type of hyperpigmentation is caused by excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays, or sun damage, and is a common symptom of skin ageing. Areas that are frequently exposed to the sun, such as the face, neck, forearms, and hands, are most prone to developing age spots.
2. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation: This term refers to skin discoloration that occurs in the aftermath of a skin trauma such as acne, eczema, a rash, or a cut.
3. Melasma: Melasma is a type of hyperpigmentation that is more prevalent in women and is believed to be hormonal in origin. It manifests itself as discoloured patches on the cheeks, nose bridge, forehead, chin, and above the upper lip. It is frequently triggered by pregnancy-related hormonal changes.
4. Freckles: They are inherited, but with UV exposure, they can darken and become more visible.
What can be done to prevent and treat hyperpigmentation?
While the causes of various types of hyperpigmentation vary, there are a few universally beneficial practices for skin lightening in Mumbai. However, it is critical to understand the type of hyperpigmentation you have in order to prevent and treat it effectively. Not all treatment options for hyperpigmentation are effective for all types of hyperpigmentation.
Therefore, if you're following the preventative and corrective measures outlined below and your hyperpigmentation persists, it's always a good idea to consult a dermatologist for advice on the best course of action. Additionally, if your discoloration is particularly stubborn, an in-office hyperpigmentation treatment may be required to completely even things out. Otherwise, if you have mild to moderate hyperpigmentation, here's what you should do.
Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun.
The first step in treating hyperpigmentation is prevention, or more precisely, sun protection. Without a doubt, the sun stimulates melanin production, and thus no treatment will be effective unless and until the sun is eliminated from the equation.
This means, as you already know, that you should apply sunscreen every day, rain or shine. Daily use of an SPF of 30 or higher, preferably with a physical sunblock such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, reapplication every two hours if out for an extended period of time, wearing hats, and avoiding direct sun exposure are all critical precautions.
Additionally, avoid being outside between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Even the most effective sunscreens will allow some UVA rays to penetrate, aggravating hyperpigmentation, so invest in a couple of hats.
Keep your hands away from your zits.
If you develop pimples, it is critical not to pick at them. If you cut yourself, bandage it to prevent a permanent dark mark or scar. Additionally, avoid scratching mosquito bites, which can darken the skin.
Choose products with the appropriate ingredients.
Look for a formula that includes the best skin lightening agents, such as kojic acid, licorice extract, or mushroom extract, as well as hydroquinone — although controversial, dermatologists widely regard it as the gold standard ingredient for fading dark spots. Additionally, they recommend using a retinol serum or an exfoliant such as glycolic or lactic acid. Additionally, you should use ingredients that can aid in the treatment of damaged cells in the epidermal layer. Among these are antioxidants such as vitamin C, which is especially effective when combined with alpha hydroxy acids.
If this does not work, a prescription for a stronger dose of the active ingredient, such as hydroquinone, which is available over-the-counter in concentrations up to 2%, may be required. In some cases, prescription or physician-dispensed products may perform better due to a higher concentration of the active ingredients. These can also be more irritating, which is why it is recommended that you consult a dermatologist before beginning a regimen.
Finally, hyperpigmentation can affect anyone and will almost certainly affect you at some point in your life. Consult your dermatologist if you have a severe case or suspect it is hormonal. In any case, if you want to avoid skin discoloration, the best place to start is with sunscreen.
Published by Dr Niketa Sonavane