Hyperpigmentation - Causes, Types and Treatments

Hyperpigmentation Treatment (Skyn Stories By Dr Meenu Sethi)
Hyperpigmentation Treatment (Skyn Stories By Dr Meenu Sethi)

Do you have those dark blobs on your forehead or sun spots or horrible dark spots? Do you wish they’d go away? Skin spots can be the most embarrassing to deal with as they can be difficult to hide. Hyperpigmentation can make us look older and is something that plagues the majority of us. It is an increase in melanin, the natural substance that gives color and pigment to the skin, leading to the darkening of the skin. In other terms, Hyperpigmentation means an overproduction or excess of pigment. It affects women and men of all age groups. Most hyperpigmentation takes place due to years of damage and it will take around 4-5 months of routine treatment before you see any real results.

Primary Causes of Hyperpigmentation -

Hyperpigmentation can be caused due to internal and external factors. Internal factors include medical treatment, nutrition, stress, and hormones. External factors include sun exposure, harsh weather, and too much skin exfoliation.

Sun Exposure - It is the most common cause of hyperpigmentation as the sun exposure stimulates the production of melanin. Melanin is your skin’s natural sunscreen which protects your skin from harmful UV rays, but excessive sun rays can cause hyperpigmentation.

Hormonal Changes - They are also known as chloasma or melasma and occurs when the female sex hormones progesterone and estrogen trigger too much production of melanin due to sun exposure.

Medication - Hyperpigmentation can take place due to side effects of anti-seizure drugs, antimalarials, antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs and certain hormone treatments. It is also characteristic of certain illnesses such as vitamin deficiencies, metabolic disorder, autoimmune and gastrointestinal diseases.

Stress - Physical or mental stress in the form of depression, cancer, chronic ailment can also cause pigmentation.

Types of Hyperpigmentation -

In order to treat hyperpigmentation successfully, you need to know what type it is or else, you might be just wasting your time and money taking wrong treatments. Hyperpigmentation appears in many different forms-

Sunspots (liver or age spots) - It occurs due to overexposure to the sun when the sun exposure kindles the creation of melanin, the pigment liable for fabricating color in the skin. It is one of the most common forms of hyperpigmentation. This resembles freckling and appears as spots usually on forehead, nose, and cheeks.

Post - Inflammatory hyperpigmentation- It usually starts as a red patch after the initial inflammation subsides and eventually turns brown. These dark spots are usually caused by skin inflammation such as burns, psoriasis, eczema, acne or any other inflammatory skin condition, especially in darker skin types.

Melasma - They are patchy brown colored spots and occurs in about 80% of pregnant women. They usually take place due to high stress, thyroid dysfunction, changes in progesterone, estradiol, estrogen levels. These spots usually disappear after pregnancy, but can stay behind on some women.

Hyperpigmentation Treatment

Now, when the damage is done, all you want is a quick solution to get rid of those ugly spots. Here are some treatments that will help ensure you aren’t seeing those spots in the near future!

Sun Protection - The best way to treat hyperpigmentation is to prevent it in its first place. Always apply sunblock with an SPF of 30 before stepping out in the sun as sun exposure is one of the most common causes of hyperpigmentation.

Topical Application - Topical applications containing retinoids and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) which exfoliate and revitalize the skin are useful in curbing hyperpigmentation. Some of the most effective topical applications include mandelic acid, azelaic acid, kojic acid and hydroquinone. Vitamin A works by exfoliating the skin and interrupting melanin synthesis that allows product ingredients to penetrate easier. Retinoids work effectively to lighten pigmentation.

Vitamin C Serum - Vitamin C is a protective antioxidant, which reduces melanin, improves skin’s collagen and fiber production.

Microneedling - It works by creating micro-injury to skin to boost the production of elastin and collagen. Your skin will become healthier and brighter with each treatment. 3-5 treatment may be required for best results.

Laser Treatment - Laser can give you quick results and tend to be more precise as the doctor has more control over the intensity of the treatment. It causes a thermal heat response to give you better skin tone. They emit stronger laser energy to increase collagen production and combat scar formation risk. The mildest treatment can act on the skin’s surface layer, whereas more intense treatment can spear the deepest layers of the skin.

Chemical Peels - Your doctor might recommend you a series of chemical peels to help exfoliate and reduce pigmentation. It involves applying an acidic solution to the skin to remove the surface layer of the skin. It will take around 6-7 peels to get the best results and an effective peel can be found for many different types of skin.

The best way to tackle hyperpigmentation is to take an appointment with your dermatologist so that he/she can create a treatment plan that is best for you. The longer you ignore, the tougher it will be to treat.