Hyperpigmentation is a very common condition in which patches of skin get darker in shade compared to the surrounding areas of skin. Contrary to what many people think, people of any race can experience hyperpigmentation. The darkening of certain areas occurs due to an increased production of melanin, which is the brown pigment that is responsible for giving the skin its normal color. Age spots, melasma and post inflammatory skin darkening are all types of hyperpigmentation.
Skin discoloration can occur on any part of the body, including the most intimate body parts. In recent years, there has been a huge rise in the number of people seeking help to lighten up their nipples, genitals and anal area.
While hyperpigmentation can look alarming at times, it poses no health risk and is a cosmetic condition rather than a medical one. None the less, it can still be a serious problem, due to the emotional distress and self esteem issues it can cause for some people.
What Causes these Discoloration Problems?
Different types of hyperpigmentation have different causes. For instance, age spots develop when you are frequently exposed to the sun. Dermatologists usually refer to these spots as solar lentigines or sun spots. While age spots usually form on the face and back of hands, they can also develop on any areas that receive excessive sun exposure.
Melasma have a similar appearance to age spots, but they seem to spread out over a larger area. This form of hyperpigmentation is caused by hormonal changes. This explains why it is common among pregnant women, as pregnancy is a time full of hormonal fluctuations. Women who take birth control pills are also at risk for developing melasma because these medications cause changes in hormonal levels.
Changes in skin color can be brought about by both internal and external causes. For instance, acne marks may be left behind after pimples heal. Dark spots may also form after injuries. These conditions are usually referred to as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Another type of hyperpigmentation is freckles, which is an inherited characteristic, with freckles becoming more prominent when skin is exposed to the sun.
How do you Treat Hyperpigmentation?
1. Exfoliate Your Skin
Many people do nothing with their hyperpigmentation problem because they believe the dark spots will fade over time. Yes, sometimes these unsightly marks will fade over time, but if you don’t want to wait and hope this will happen, you can speed up the healing process by regularly exfoliating your skin. A gentle scrub can help remove dead skin cells on the surface and allow new cells to rise to the surface. This helps reveal younger-looking skin.
2. Wear Sunscreen Every Day
Dermatologists agree that the single most important thing you can do for your skin is to wear sunscreen every day, even on cloudy days. Also keep in mind that applying sunscreen once daily isn’t enough, especially in hot weather. You need to re-apply every few hours to ensure your skin is always protected from the harmful ultraviolet rays. It is recommended to choose a moisturizer with at least SPF 15 to enjoy sun protection while keeping the skin hydrated as well.
3. Try Topical Treatments
There are countless skin lightening products on the market, but not all of them are created equal. It’s good practice to read the ingredient list of products before buying them.
Be especially wary of products containing hydroquinone. For many years, dermatologists have recommended hydroquinone for treating different types of skin discoloration. Prolonged use, however can do more harm than good.
If you do choose to use products containing hydroquinone, you should only do so under the strict supervision of your doctor or dermatologist. It really isn’t a good idea to purchase products over the counter which contain this potentially harmful ingredient.
When buying over the counter creams, stick to products containing safer ingredients such as vitamin C, kojic acid and retinoids which are all known to effectively lighten skin.
4. Try Some Home Remedies
People have been using home remedies for many years, to improve the appearance of their skin. There are lots of inexpensive and readily available foods such as tomatoes, lemons and yogurt that can be used to lighten skin blemishes.
5. Consider Chemical Peels
More serious cases call for more intense procedures. Chemical peels such as a phenol peel or TCL peel can be very effective at correcting discoloration. These procedures must be done by an experienced clinician to prevent scarring and pigment irregularities.
6. Try Laser Treatment
There are several laser resurfacing treatments that can be performed to even out the skin tone. Fractional lasers and CO2 lasers are just two of the most popular treatments for skin resurfacing. Photofacial, a treatment which makes use of intense pulsed light, is also often recommended by dermatologists to patients.
If you want to win the battle against hyperpigmentation, it is necessary to inform yourself about the different types of hyperpigmentation and the treatment options available.
It is always advisable to consult your doctor or dermatologist, regarding any changes to your skin, to confirm that your skin discoloration problem is in fact hyperpigmentation and not something more serious that requires medical treatment. A dermatologist can also steer you in the right direction, towards a treatment that best suits your condition.
Photo attributions :
Vesnuschki – Freckle Face By Loyna. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Commons
Skin cream by radnatt @ freedigitalphotos.com