As the largest bodily organ, the skin is exposed to a wide variety of diseases, infections, and conditions that are prevalent among people of all ethnicities.
Hyperpigmentation is one of the common skin conditions many people suffer and while it is treatable, it can often be overwhelming to effectively restore previous skin condition. Here is a brief description of the condition including its risks and treatment procedures:
What is Hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is simply defined as the darkening of part of the skin area caused by an increase in melanin production.
The darkening can also affect the nails, although it is often notorious on the back of the hand and facial area.
Hyperpigmentation is typically very difficult to treat, especially since it is caused by a host of different diseases and exposures ranging from sun damage to skin injuries and acne vulgaris, among others.
The condition can either be diffuse affecting a large skin area or focal showing in small patches on different areas of the skin.
Hyperpigmentation Risks And Side Effects
In order to treat Hyperpigmentation, it is important to fully understand its characteristics, including the risk factors and side effects.
As aforementioned, Hyperpigmentation is a result of increased melanin production. Melanocytes found at the lower epidermis are responsible for producing melanin, which is the pigment class that regulates skin and hair color.
There are a few risk factors that have been identified which increase the chances of suffering Hyperpigmentation. They include the following:
1. Exposure to UV
Although the condition affects people of all races and ethnicities, it is more prevalent on those with darker skin, especially when they are overexposed to UV light.
With age, the production of melanin becomes less diffuse and its regulation also diminishes.
UV light stimulates the activity of melanocytes and when these cells are concentrated on one place, the subject may suffer from Hyperpigmentation.
2. Skin Inflammation
Sun damage is the number one risk factor, although inflammation, skin injuries, and diseases like acne vulgaris are also known to increase the risk of this condition.
Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) is another popular form of the condition, appearing following acne that has healed.
This is usually characterized by dark, and sometimes discolored, spots that appear on the skin in different places, particularly where the acne was severe. Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation can also follow skin irritations caused by burns, psoriasis, and friction.
Some commercial skin care products have also been associated with the risk of inflammation and skin darkening.
However, PIH usually fades away as the skin regenerates itself and the process can be boosted through medication. It may take up to a few months before all the dark and discolored spots heal.
Also known as age spots or liver spots, lentigines are another risk factor, especially in people with light skin over the age of 60.
While the spots are found in 90% of aged light-skinned people, it is universally agreed that the main cause of lentigines is UV exposure and not the process of aging.
Melasma is another form of Hyperpigmentation that mostly affects women. It is associated with hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy.
It is also believed that thyroid dysfunction, hormone replacement therapy, and use of birth control drugs also increases hormonal fluctuations and thus this form of Hyperpigmentation.
Melasma is normally very difficult to treat and may take several months before there is any significant change.
There are other minor risk factors, including diseases like Addison’s disease, Cushing’s disease, Linea nigra, Celiac disease, Porphyria, ringworm infection, and Nelson’s syndrome, among many others. Botched skin treatments and hereditary causes are additional risk factors.
Although most people who struggle with Hyperpigmentation acknowledge that it is very hard to eliminate dark spots, there are those who have adequately restored their skins to previous, if not better, conditions.
The key to treating dark skin pigment lies in understanding what type of Hyperpigmentation you are suffering from.
Is it PIH, melisma, or lentigines? Knowing the type allows you to determine the possible causes and risk factors that make it possible for the condition to thrive.
Once you know this, you can consult your dermatologist for possible treatment.There are various ways to go about treating Hyperpigmentation, including the following:
1. Topical Lightening Products
This is the first attempt you should make to eliminate dark pigmentation. Topical products contain natural skin lightening ingredients such as hydroquinone, kojic acid, retinoids, azelaic acid, mandelic acid, and Vitamin C.
The ingredients are derived from plants and fungus. They are known to peel off dark spots and result in skin rejuvenation.
2. Photofacial IPL
Intense pulsed light or photofacial is widely recommended by doctors as a way to get rid of Hyperpigmentation.
However, the condition may get worse if the procedure is wrongly administered, so it is advisable to carefully choose your doctors.
3. Chemical Peels
Skin peels, phenol peels, and salicylic acid peels can be used to eliminate dark spots when topical treatment therapies fail.
Extreme care and supervision should be given to prevent pigment irregularities and scarring.
4. Laser Peels and Skin Resurfacing
Fractional and CO2 lasers are the popular laser skin-resurfacing treatments used to reduce pigmentation on affected areas. They simply peel off the darkened skin surface allowing new ones to form.
5. OTC Medication
You can consider over-the-counter treatment options such as skin lightening creams, which prevent production of excess melanin while removing existing pigment.
Choose products that contain Retin-A, hydroxyl acids, soy milk, hydroquinone, cucumber, calcium, kojic acid, and arbutin.
6. Home Remedies
There are several topical home remedies that can help you gradually lighten your skin and eliminate Hyperpigmentation in the affected areas.
They include lemon juice, rose-hip oil, aloe vera, and sliced cucumber/cucumber juice, among others.
Your dermatologist may recommend other medications depending on your requirements and underlying medical conditions.
It is important to keenly review all offers you get and ensure they are safely administered.
Hyperpigmentation Guide Review Summary
Hyperpigmentation can be very distressing and treating it is even more overwhelming. This is why it is advisable to take full measures to prevent the condition.
Avoid UV exposure, tanning beds, and sunbathing. Use sunglasses, sunscreen oils, and umbrella protection when there is extreme light.
You should also be very careful when choosing professional skincare products and procedures.
Only use professional credible and licensed dermatologists who are allowed to offer their services in the region and question all treatments before you accept them.