Hyperpigmentation is when certain areas of the skin appear darker than others. These dark patches are not painful or itchy, but they can make a person self-conscious about their appearance. It is caused by an increase in melanin, which is a natural pigment that gives our skin its color. Many things can lead to hyperpigmentation, such as sun damage, genetics, and hormonal changes. Medical diseases and certain medications can also lead to this skin condition. It is common in types III-VI of the Fitzpatrick skin classification. Lifestyle changes and treatments are possible solutions for excessive pigmentation.
Types of hyperpigmentation:
There are three main types: age spots, melasma, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Age spots appear after lengthy sun exposure, and look like brown, tan or black patches. Melasma affects pregnant women, women on birth control pills, as well as menopausal women. As for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, these darkened patches appear on the skin after a condition such as acne or eczema. This is the most common type in the Middle East.
Melanin in your skin absorbs the energy of harmful ultraviolet rays when exposed to the sun. To protect yourself when out in the sun, make sure to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen.
Treatments for hyperpigmentation:
Topical creams can be used for treatment: these creams include ingredients such as hydroquinone, vitamin C, kojic acid, retinoids, azelaic acid, and more. It usually takes 3 – 6 months of consistent use to restore skin color. Since hyperpigmentation is a challenging problem, it is essential that the patient is diligent in using the product. Cosmetic procedures are also an option, such as laser skin resurfacing, microdermabrasion and chemical peels. These procedures gently remove the top layer of skin which has the dark spots. After recovery, your dark spots will be lightened and the skin tone will be more balanced.
Consult your doctor to find out what treatments are available. Although this skin condition is harmless, many of us find it annoying to have an uneven skin tone. Luckily, there are effective options for treating and restoring your skin.
Read our previous blog post on acne scars here.