What is Hyperpigmentation that has troubled many?
Dark spots, freckles, and other skin discolorations can show up on our faces, necks, chests and hands after too much time in the sun, hormonal surges associated with pregnancy or oral contraceptive, acne and trauma to the skin. The problem is further compounded by cumulative sun exposure that happens with time.
Some medications and systemic diseases can also be associated with hyperpigmentation. And while they can appear for a variety of reasons, they all have one thing in common: they’re very difficult to get rid of on your own.
What is Hyperpigmentation?
It occurs when melanin – the pigment that gives skin, hair and eyes their natural color – is overproduced in certain areas. This causes localized dark flat spots or patches on the skin that cant be felt. These patches can be light brown to black in color and will often vary in terms of size and shape.
Freckles, age spots and post-acne marks are all examples of hyperpigmentation. While it can affect anyone at any given time in their lives, it is seen in all skin tones from light to medium to dark skin tones.
Although the condition is considered harmless, it can cause significant distress to those inflicted as it tends to affect areas of skin that are consistently exposed to the environment such as the face, hands and décolleté. There are many different forms of hyperpigmentation, but for the most part they can be divided into three categories:
Forms of Hyperpigmentation – Hormonal
When estrogen is elevated above a normal level, it can lead to a condition known as melasma that causes large areas of skin to darken. This is why many women notice flat, dark patches of skin developing during their pregnancy or after starting the contraceptive pill.
In fact, it affects so many pregnant women (up to 90%) that it is often referred to as the mask of pregnancy. The good news for melasma sufferers is that the condition can often resolve itself once estrogen levels have been rectified – after birth or after coming off hormonal contraceptives for instance.
The bad news? It can take anywhere from a couple of months to a few years to fade entirely. It might even come back with Menopause.
Forms of Hyperpigmentation – Inflammatory
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is what occurs after a pimple or bite has finished healing. It is essentially the skin’s natural response to any injury that causes the skin to become inflamed. As the inflammation subsides and the lesion begins to heal, the skin can often produce too much melanin causing the formerly-damaged skin to darken.
Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation will improve over time, even if it’s left untreated, but this can take anywhere from three months to three years depending on the severity of the pigmentation.
Forms of Hyperpigmentation – Sun-induced
This typically refers to specific spots. This kind of hyperpigmentation is caused by sun damage. Anyone can be affected at any point in their lives. Interestingly, age spots do not necessarily appear at the same time that the skin is afflicted.
Oftentimes you will find that sun damage accumulated in the 20s can start to surface much later in life. It is important to let your physician know if there are any new or changing suspicious spots as this could be a sign of a skin cancer such as melanoma (for more info review the ABCDE’s and ugly duckling sign of melanoma)
What can we do to Prevent Hyperpigmentation?
To prevent hyperpigmentation related to sun exposure, or to stop it becoming more prominent:
- Avoid excess exposure to the sun especially between 10 AM and 2 PM.
- Use a physical and broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher along with sun protective clothing including hats and sunglasses.
- Avoid picking at the skin.
- To prevent hyperpigmentation from forming after an injury, avoid picking at spots, scabs, and acne.
- Manage the underlying cause, for example, if acne is leading to hyperpigmentation then management of acne is important.
- If the pigmentation is related to medication use then removing the medication when possible will help.
If you are already suffering from Hyperpigmentation and like to deal with it head on we recommend a combination of topical agents and clinic treatments. You can consider both surgical skin care procedures or non-surgical skincare procedures.
What are the Most Common Hyperpigmentation Treatments?
Topical Agents for Treating Hyperpigmentation
There are Multiple options for topical therapy and include hydroquinone, Kojic acid, Azelaic acid, Retinoids, Hydrocortisone, Arbutin, glycolic acid, ascorbic acid, mequinol and Tranexamic acid, Niacinamide, Liquorice derivatives and flavonoids.
Our medical grade cosmeceutical of choice for treating hyperpigmentation is the Vivier Hyperpigmenation kit with Hydroquinone (HQ) and for those sensitive to HQ there is an HQ free kit with Arbutin. Other active ingredients include alpha hydroxy acids, ascorbic acid and retinol.
Clinic Procedures for Treating Hyperpigmentation
Clinical treatments target pigment within the skin. The specific treatment used is in part based on the depth of the pigment within the skin. Optimal results are achieved when topical agents are used in combination with clinical procedures.
Clinical procedures available include:
- Laser therapy including picosecond lasers
- Intense pulsed light
- Chemical peels
- Micro-needling in combination with a lightening agent
Where to get all your Hyperpigmentation Advice from?
At The Best You we treat hyperpigmentation on a daily basis and have created the Lighten and Brighten Program which combines specific topical ingredients with specific treatments, customized to your hyperpigmentation, to restore your natural skin tone.
For more information or to book your consultation at any of the following clinics, please call 1-866-333-3305 or book an appointment below
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