What is Hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is a skin condition which looks appear skin darker than the normal skin, pigmentation generally appear in:
- Small patches
- Large spots
- Affects the whole body
In this post, we’ll discuss the major types, causes, and treatments of hyperpigmentation.
Types of Pigmentation
There are many types of hyperpigmentation but most commonly are melasma, Sunspots, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Melasma develops due to hormonal imbalance. That’s why this type of pigmentation commonly appears in pregnant ladies. pigment spots appear most commonly on your cheeks, lips, and stomach.
It is also known as liver spots or solar lentigines but the most common name is sunspots. It happens due to excess sun exposure with the passage of time. Normally, sunspots appear on the areas which directly exposed to the sun like hands, face, and neck as well.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH)
These dark spots occur after the pimples are recovered, but sometimes it can also happen after any trauma to the skin. Any sort of skin irritation may help melanocytes to produce excess melanin that may lead to creating more pigments.
Symptoms of Hyperpigmentation
The most common symptoms of hyperpigmentation are the dark spots on the skin. These dark patches can vary in size and may appear anywhere at the skin.
What are the risk Factors
Sun exposure and inflammation are the biggest risk factors for hyperpigmentation. Both these can stimulate melanin production. As sun exposure exceeds, the risk factor of skin pigmentation also increased. Some other factors that may influence hyperpigmentation are:
- Pregnancy may appear with melasma.
- Drugs that may sensitive to sunlight.
- Trauma to the skin such as wounds.
- Darker skin type, may also one of the reasons.
Causes of Hyperpigmentation
- The most common cause of hyperpigmentation is the abnormal production of melanin. Melanin is a pigment that is responsible to give the color of the skin. Melanocytes are the skin cells that produce melanin but due to several factors, they start producing excess melanin that may lead to pigmentation.
- Some medications may also cause pigmentation like chemotherapy drugs can also have side effects which appear in the form of pigmentation.
- Hormonal changes especially in pregnancy, can also aggravate melanin production in some ladies.
- Addison’s disease, an endocrine disease that can produce hyperpigmentation in the area exposed by the sun especially in the face, arms, and neck.
- Excessive sun exposure may also lead to the production of melanin.
- Increased levels of hormones in your body can allow the melanocytes to produce extra melanin.
Diagnoses and Treatment
A dermatologist diagnoses the causes of hyperpigmentation after your physical examination. A biopsy procedure is also adopted for the diagnosis of pigmentation in certain cases.
In some cases, topical medications can play an effective role to treat hyperpigmentation. Medications like hydroquinone is a wonderful topical product that lightens the skin.
Although prolonged use of topical hydroquinone can cause your skin darker, called ochronosis. So its always better to take medications after consulting the dermatologist to avoid any adverse effects.
Retinoids are also used as a topical medication to treat pigmentation. Both these medications can take a few months to lighten the pigmented spots.
Sometimes home care medications become much effective to lighten the dark spots. Although these medications don’t contain much hydroquinone they are enough potent. Using Sunscreen is also one of the key home care medications that can reduce skin pigmentation effectively. Sunscreen should be
- A physical block sunscreen, having zinc oxide as the main active ingredient
- At least SPF 30-50
- Broad-spectrum coverage
Apply sunscreen on a daily basis if your skin is exposed to the sun during swimming, sweating, etc. You should reapply it after every 2 hours to avoid frequent sun exposure.
There are also some skin disorders that happen due to sun exposure like melasma. In that case, you should use a mineral sunscreen that contains iron oxide in it that can block visible light. Wear clothes that prevent from sun exposure and SPF infused.
Your Dermatologist can also suggest you for the laser treatment depending on the cause of hyperpigmentation.
How to Prevent Hyperpigmentation
It’s not always certain to prevent hyperpigmentation but you can use some precautions like,
- Use sunscreen having SPF of at least 30
- Wear clothes having full sleeves and hats also, that block sunlight
- Avoid moving outside in the extreme sun exposure which is between 10 am to 04 pm.
You can protect yourself from pigmentation by following these guidelines.
Hyperpigmentation is never considered to be a harmful skin disorder. In some cases, pigmented spots fade away by own due to good sun protection. while some people need aggressive medications to get rid of hyperpigmentation. There isn’t any guarantee that using treatment you can permanently remove pigmentation.