After spending too much time in the sun, you may sometimes find darker spots of skin appearing on your face. Or perhaps you may find these spots appearing like shadows on your face during pregnancy, or as you age. All these symptoms are collectively known as hyperpigmentation.
Although generally not harmful to health, hyperpigmentation affects one’s physical appearance and is considered unsightly by some people. By getting to know more about hyperpigmentation, you can have a better idea of how to avoid their formation, and the treatments available for pigmentation removal.
What is hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation refers to a condition in which patches of skin are darker than the rest of the skin. It is not a medical condition in itself, but rather, a symptom which may be caused by other triggers or inherited conditions.
The darker skin is caused by a pigment in the skin called melanin. When a trigger causes an over-production of melanin, this causes the skin area to turn darker.
What are the causes of hyperpigmentation?
There are several causes for hyperpigmentation. It could result from scarring after cuts or burns on the skin, as well as after surgery, acne, or chickenpox. These could also be a sign of ageing, such as age spots and melasma. In some cases, the root cause is genetic, and may be aggravated by environmental factors as well.
One significant environmental trigger for melanin production is sunlight. That is why many forms of hyperpigmentation are caused by prolonged sun exposure. Certain drugs can also increase one’s sensitivity to sunlight, making one more susceptible to experiencing hyperpigmentation.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can also over-stimulate the pigment-producing glands, which is why many pregnant ladies experience hyperpigmentation. Women on contraceptives can also have hormone-induced hyperpigmentation.
Generally, hyperpigmentation is not harmful. However, it can be bothersome to find these spots when they start to increase in number and size. For those who wish there was a way to remove hyperpigmentation from their skin, the good news is: There is!
Methods of hyperpigmentation removal
There are numerous methods for pigmentation removal, ranging from over-the-counter creams to home remedies. You can look out for creams containing skin-lightening ingredients like hydroquinone, vitamin C, azelaic acid, retinoids, or kojic acid. Natural ingredients like aloe vera and green tea have also been found to have some skin-lightening effects. These methods are generally safe for use and gentle for the skin. However, the results are not guaranteed, and can take a long time to work.
For a more immediate and results-proven method, it is best to consult a dermatologist or aesthetic doctor. These professionals will be able to assess your skin and provide the best recommendations of treatments for your skin type and condition. Some techniques for pigmentation removal are pico laser treatments and Q-switched laser treatments.
Besides removal techniques, constant skincare is also required to reduce the chances of hyperpigmentation returning. Sun protection should always be your first line of care – use a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30. Even if you are not spending your day outdoors, sunscreen is still essential to protect from harmful UV rays.