Hyper Pigmentation Causes, Symptoms and Treatments
Hormonal imbalances, scarring and acne, prescription drugs and of course sunlight can cause hyper pigmentation. But what is hyper pigmentation? Hyper pigmentation can be
described simply as dark spots on your skin that happen when your skin produces more melanin (melanin gives your skin its color).
There are different types of hyper pigmentation. One type of hyper pigmentation is known as melasma. Melasma reveals itself as dark patches on the skin – usually the face – and pregnant women usually experience this type of hyper pigmentation. The most common type of hyper pigmentation is age or liver spots, which appear due to the sun’s radiation. When you have acne or scarring, your skin produces more melanin in the healing process and this can result in post inflammatory hyper pigmentation.
The following article from Avvo.com gives an outline of the causes and symptoms of hyper pigmentation, how you can identify hyper pigmentation and what kinds of treatments are available for hyper pigmentation.
Skin and Beauty: Hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation is darkening of the skin, which results in brown or black patches of skin and creates an uneven skin tone. Affected individuals often wish to lighten or remove these patches — this can sometimes be accomplished with topical medications, laser and light therapy, or other resurfacing procedures, which are most commonly performed by dermatologists and plastic surgeons.
There are a variety of causes of hyperpigmentation, the most common being sun damage, medications, genetics and hormonal factors, including pregnancy. In many cases, multiple factors simultaneously contribute to hyperpigmentation. Almost all hyperpigmentation is made worse by sun exposure. Inadequate sun protection is a contributing factor in almost all affected individuals.
Hyperpigmentation may be present from birth in the form of many different types of birthmarks. More commonly, affected individuals will notice a darkening of the skin, either in specific spots or throughout a general area. Many people will notice that their birthmarks or moles become darker when they are exposed to sunlight, and they may worsen significantly during the summer.
People who notice new or changing dark spots should consult a dermatologist to rule out skin cancers. Always provide the doctor with a full list of medications and supplements so that any contributing to hyperpigmentation can be identified and possibly stopped.
Often a dermatologist will be able to identify the cause of hyperpigmentation simply by examining the lesions. In more complicated cases, examination with a special light or even a skin biopsy may be necessary to fully evaluate and diagnose the process.
There are a wide range of treatments for hyperpigmentation. The success of a given treatment depends on the cause of the hyperpigmentation, the severity of the lesion and factors that are specific to the person. Strict sun protection is required in order to prevent worsening and recurrence of hyperpigmentation before, during and after treatment.
Some forms of hyperpigmentation can be treated with topical medications. Bleaching creams, such as hydroquinone, are some of the most commonly used. These creams are applied to the affected area daily for several weeks to months, in cycles. They cannot be used continuously for long periods of time. Bleaching creams do not work for all types of hyperpigmentation and results may not always be dramatic.
Hyperpigmentation is often treated with laser or intense pulsed light therapy. Most of these treatments target the pigment in the skin that causes skin to appear darker. There are many different laser and light treatments which may be highly effective, but these treatments can be expensive and multiple treatments may be required to achieve the desired result. Rarely, these treatments may cause worsening of hyperpigmentation, so a test spot should be performed prior to widespread treatment.
Instead of targeting the pigment in the skin, other lasers are used to resurface the skin. This type of treatment can improve hyperpigmentation by removing discolored skin and allowing new healthy skin to replace it. These treatments may require more downtime due to the temporary damage they do to the skin. Other types of resurfacing that may be effective for hyperpigmentation include chemical peels and dermabrasion. Often a mix of the above procedures, combined with strict sun protection will prove most effective.
Microderm abrasion is one form of treatment that can minimize hyper pigmentation of the skin. Skin resurfacing procedures such as microderm abrasion can easily remove dark spots caused by hyper pigmentation because the unenvenly pigmented skin cells are usually close to the skin’s surface. In more mild cases of hyper pigmentation, microderm abrasion can work very well for you. If you have a more severe case of hyper pigmentation, you may need to seek another method of dealing with your hyper pigmentation.
Whatever form of hyper pigmentation you do have, and however severe your hyper pigmentation, you need to practice caution when in the sun. Exposing unevenly pigmented skin to the sun can cause the hyper pigmentation to worsen and areas of your skin will become darker. So make sure you use broad-spectrum SPF protection (that protects your skin from UVB and UVA radiation) when you’re outside. If you have any more questions about hyper pigmentation or microderm abrasion, please give us a call!