Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation is a condition that occurs when the skin’s pigmentation becomes darker. It is the opposite of hypopigmentation, where the skin becomes lighter. Hyperpigmentation is more common for people with darker skin & can last for months or years. It often manifests itself as dark patches on the skin or freckling & spots, but the different types of hyperpigmentation need to be understood because treatment is not always the same.

Hyperpigmentation and acne scars on the cheek of a young woman

Hyperpigmentation

What is Hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation occurs in patches on the skin when the melanocytes, the cells which produce the melanin pigment, produce too much melanin due to over-activity.

Hyperpigmentation can result in flat, darkened patches of skin that can vary in size and shape but are generally light brown to black in colour. People with darker skin tones are more prone to hyperpigmentation, especially with excess sun exposure, but it can affect people with all skin tones. There are many types of hyperpigmentation.

Types
  • Pigment spots caused by sun exposure appear mainly on body parts that are frequently exposed to the sun, such as the face, hands or arms & appear as small, darkened patches of skin.
  • Melasma or Chloasma is often referred to as “the mask of pregnancy”. This form of hyperpigmentation is caused by hormonal changes which is why it affects the majority of pregnant women. Women who take the contraceptive pill or are taking hormone replacement therapies (HRT) are also at risk of developing melasma because they cause changes in hormonal levels.
  • Freckles appearing on the face are usually an inherited feature, but they can become more prominent when exposed to sunlight.
  • Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation can occur when a skin injury or trauma heals. For instance, acne scars and marks may be left behind after blemishes heal. This can leave a flat area of discolouration behind. Although commonly found among acne sufferers, it can also be caused by cosmetic procedures such as dermabrasion, chemical peels and laser treatment.

While hyperpigmentation can look alarming at times, it poses no health risk & is a cosmetic rather than a medical condition. Nonetheless, it can still be a serious problem due to the emotional distress & self esteem issues it can cause.

Treatments

Treatment of Hyperpigmentation

One of the best ways to avoid hyperpigmentation is to firstly limit exposure to the sun & protect your skin from the suns harmful UVA and UVB rays by wearing the appropriate level of sunscreen. Avoiding excessive trauma to the skin, e.g. by using less harsh chemicals in cleaning products can also help limit & manage melasma.

However, when hyperpigmentation requires treatment, hydroquinone may be recommended for treating age spots, dark spots & melasma. Hydroquinone is a key ingredient in Obagi’s Nu-Derm System which is sold here at ReWonder.

Hydroquinone is a naturally occurring substance found in many fruits & grains. It acts upon the melanocytes, suppressing them in the affected area. It can take several weeks to see results from using treatments with hydroquinone, & it is strongly recommended that patients who have seen improvements in their pigmentation as a result of using specialist skin care ranges also use an appropriate sunscreen to prevent their hyperpigmentation from returning. Exposure to the sun’s radiation can naturally cause significant changes to the skin’s pigmentation, so treatment is only part of the solution.

If hyperpigmentation is caused by acne or blemishes, We have treatments & products to help patients to manage & reduce their acne. If you have hyperpigmentation, speak to us here at ReWonder about how we can help.

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