One of the most common skin complaints is that of hyperpigmentation. While we all dream of a doll-like Alabaster finish or a rich, even, mahogany glow, discoloration can impede on our ideals of perfection. Hyperpigmentation is an excess of pigmentation in the skin. Factors influence cells called melanocytes to produce pigment as a defense mechanism. Some types of Hyperpigmentation include: Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) is caused by an inflammatory response to a chemical or a physical irritant. It is most common in Asian, Black, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Skin types. This is because there is more pigmentation naturally occurring within the Skin. Over treatment of acne with products such as Benzoyl peroxide, aggressive exfoliation and acne or blemish extractions can all lead to hyperpigmentation. Hormonal Hyperpigmentation Our hormones influence all other body functions including those in the skin. This discoloration can be caused by birth control, hormonal therapies, pregnancy or menopause. The most common pigmentation alignment caused by hormones is melasma, also know as pregnancy mask and is characterized by splotchy dark patches across the face, usually not affecting the orbital around the eyes lending to the disorder’s nickname. Sun Damage induced Hyperpigmentation Unprotected exposure to the sun’s radiation can lead to melanocytes being so severely damaged that this immune response to darken can be permanently affected. UV induced discoloration includes; Solar lentigens (freckles), Chloasma (liver spots), and multiple forms of Mottling or grouping of various spots that create an overall pronounced patch. Sun induced hyperpigmentation most easily afflicts Caucasians, as it is more visible. How to Combat Hyperpigmentation: When dealing with hyperpigmentation, a two-part approach goes hand-in-hand. Treatment and prevention are equally important. Treatment There are many creams, lotions and serums to treat Hyperpigmentation. Hydroquinone is the only FDA approved drug for the treatment of hyperpigmentation. It works by interfering with the production of melanocytes. It is available over the counter at a 2% concentration. There are many other topical products that help suppress melanin production or brighten the skin and these include: Kojic Acid, Arbutin, Vitamin C, Bearberry Extract, Azelaic Acid and Licorice Extract Exfoliation also aids in the removal of these cells that lay on the top surface of the skin. When used properly Glycolic Acid or other AHAs, Salicylic Acid and Treitnoin (Vitamin A), sloth off the buildup of cells. Just use caution with exfoliation, especially physical exfoliants as they can worsen or be the root cause of discoloration. Prevention All Hyperpigmentation no matter the initial cause will be worsened by sun exposure. A daily SPF of 30, reapplied often is necessary. Wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your face. Limit your outdoor activities by avoiding the hours that the sun is the most dangerous (10am-4pm) and never use indoor tanning beds. Hopefully with this information you will be better prepared to pursue that desire for beautiful, even skin no matter your race or age.
Blog Written by askderm's in house Esthetician Chantal Monique
Chantal Monique is a NYS licensed Esthetician and Makeup Artist. She has 7 years experience in skin care and makeup artistry. Her specialties include makeup application and facial treatments, which were featured on ABC's Wife Swap. Chantal also has a background in the Fine Arts. With the unique combination of her education as well as the desire to help people feel beautiful, Chantal provides expert skin care knowledge for our customers as well as the must have ingredients and trending looks. With an ever growing portfolio and clientele askderm is excited to be teamed up with Chantal for future blogs, informational videos and skin care tips!