Hyperpigmentation is a condition where darkening and discoloration of the skin occur due to excess production of melanin, the pigment that gives skin its colour which is produced by melanocytes present in skin. It’s one of the most common skin problems affecting both men and women & this condition worsens with advancing age.
How to Describe Hyperpigmentation
Normally red, brown, pink or even purple-looking spots, clusters or streaks are seen on the surface of the skin. These areas affected by hyperpigmentation will appear darker than the rest of the skin and may aggravated by prolonged exposure to the sun (which further increases melanin) or following an facial acne outbreak.
Hyperpigmentation usually appears mainly on sun-exposed body parts like the face, hands and arms. Increased melanin can occur in the epidermis layer of the skin, the deeper dermis layer, or both causing some discoloration in the form of small patches on the skin.
Types of hyperpigmentation
Epidermal(surface layer): Tends to be tan, brown, or dark brown in colour and it may take months to years to get rid of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation without treatment·
Dermis (inner layer of skin): Tends to be bluish-grey in colour and may be permanent if it is left untreated.
Causes of Hyperpigmentation:
1. Sunburn Pigmentation- This is commonly known as sunspots, solar lentigines are usually brown in colour and they do not cause a change in skin texture & are more darker and irregular in appearance as compared to freckles. People with a lighter skin tone are said to be more prone to sunspots. Without treatment & prolonged exposure to sun, these existing lesions become darker in colour.
2. Freckles- It’s a very common type of skin lesions. Usually seen in size of matchstick heads, freckles normally do not cause a change in skin texture seen in people with a lighter skin tone. They are flat circular spots which are usually tan or light brown in colour, develop on sun exposed areas.
3. Post-Acne Pigmentation - Usually developed from healed acne wounds which are reddish in colour are caused by broken blood capillaries that have yet to heal at the site of acne lesion & marks which are dark in colour result from overproduction of melanin in reaction to skin inflammation at the affected area. Without proper treatment, post-acne pigmentation may take a very long time varying from months or even years to fade off. Normally seen following extraction is not carried out professionally, instead of pushing the pus out, one may be pushing it further down causing more skin and tissue beneath it get damaged in the process, increasing the chances of inflammation and scarring.
4. Uneven Skin Tone- It’s a type of skin discoloration, uneven skin tone appears as patches of darkened skin due to the overproduction of melanin by the body following the result of sun damage, hormonal changes or side effect of medication. This uneven skin tone usually make one look older.
5. Mobile Radiation Spots- It is normally seen on face as dark spots, but the incidence is decreasing now a days. Computer radiation spots may develop from long period of exposure towards computer or mobile phone radiation. The skin may be damaged by the static electricity and radiation produced by computer and mobile phones.
6. Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)- PIH usually occurs Following inflamed wounds, PIH is usually tan, brown or black in colour. It is a condition in which there is an increased production of melanin due to an injury or inflammation to the skin & seen in darker tone people. PIH is not a scar. So if itis go untreated, it should fade away within 2 years.
7. Melasma- This condition usually happens when a trigger, such as a pregnancy or birth control pills. Some women usually have melanoma for years to even a lifetime.
Treatment of Hyperpigmentation
1. Laser treatment is one of the most advanced treatments for removing unwanted pigmentation on the skin such as age spots, sun spots, and freckles. Skin Pigmentation Removal with the advanced Laser Machines is a quick, gentle and non-invasive treatment. It does not affect the surrounding tissues or alter the normal skin color.
2. Skin lightening creams - These drugs works by slowing down melanin production and removing existing melanin from the skin.
3. Chemical peels - Peels like glycolic acid and salicylic acid work by exfoliating the uppermost layer of the skin, along with the dark patches, thus speeding up the skin lightening process. Normally following treatment, one may experience skin redness over the next few days. Some Other side could be skin irritation, blistering, or even skin discolouration.
4. Microdermabrasion: Just like the chemical peels, microdermabrasion treats hyperpigmentation problems by exfoliating the upper most layer of the skin. Here fine crystals are used to gently lift the dead skin cells while a suction is used to remove them, hence making this is a gentler alternative.
5. Topical: Topical creams (such as Vitamin C cream and retinoid)are less intensive treatments which would work better in the removal of epidermal hyperpigmentation. It usually take a longer time to visibly lightenthe post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
6. Hydra -Facial: To lighten hyperpigmentation, Hydrafacial treatments are typically customised according to the severity of the hyperpigmentation.
Consult Your Dermatologist before you start any kind of treatment.