Demystifying Hyperpigmentation

Not just your industry buzzword and most likely something you’ve been struggling with but didn’t even know it!

🗒️Types of hyperpigmentation

What’s happening under the surface? Your skin reacts to many external factors in different ways and while pigmentation types may seem all too similar they are not all alike. All are cause by excess production of Melanin in the skin, the pigment responsible for skin tone. There are 4 main categories of Hyperpigmentation;

Solar Lentigines

These pigmentation spots are caused by UV rays after prolonged exposure to the sun. They vary in colour from light brown to black and are also known by the more common names such as; liver spots, sun spots, brown spots or age spots. It’s important to keep an eye on these as they can develop into skin cancer or Melanomas.

Freckles

Also caused by UV rays these spots are usually the first signs of sun damage to your skin. Genes also have a role to play with freckles as some of us may be more likely to show freckles than others, especially those with lighter complections.

Melasma

Referred to by some as the ‘pregnancy mask’ this form of hyperpigmentation is much more common in women. Predominantly caused by hormonal changes (such as those experienced during pregnancy), melasma presents itself as patches of darker skin, usually on the face.

Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

Is the darkening of the skin around any area of trauma, causes can range from burn, chemical damage, friction, cuts and acne. The trauma to the skin spurs on melanin production, resulting in darkening of the skin.

Occasionally hyperpigmentation can also be caused by other underlying medical conditions but it is usually harmless. A rare endocrine disease known as Addison’s disease, can also produce hyperpigmentation. Areas usually affected by Addison’s are; areas with regular sun exposure, such as the face, neck and hand or areas exposed to regular friction, such as elbows and knees.

⚠️Symptoms and risk factors

Darkening of the skin in spots, freckles or patches signals the start of hyperpigmentation in the skin. Early treatment is best to reduce the effects of hyperpigmentation but avoiding the risk factors may prevent the onset of hyperpigmentation in the first place

Risk factors

Some risks can be avoided, some can only be minimised but some are unfortunately just part of who you are – what is important is to understand the risks and act accordingly. 

  • Sun Exposure
  • Inflammation
  • Trauma to the skin
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Pregnancy hormones
  • Medications that increase sensitivity to sunlight

🎨 Hyperpigmentation and skin tone

Hyperpigmentation affects all skin tones across the spectrum. However, people with darker skin have more issues with dark spots because the skin is already creating melanin – giving it a darker colour. When hormones, sun exposure or trauma are thrown into the mix, melanin production increases leading to a greater chance of hyperpigmentation.

There are fewer limitations for hyperpigmentation treatment for those with lighter skin tones because their risk to overproduce melanin is significantly less. Lighter skin tones, however, are more susceptible to dark spots caused by sun damage. Although it is a harmless condition, many people choose to professionally reduce or remove evidence of the condition for personal reasons.

✨Treating hyperpigmentation

In darker skin types, hyperpigmentation treatment should be extra gentle to avoid irritating the skin or causing inflammation to the point where post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation forms. Since the pigmentation is due to a chemical reaction within the skin it does require professional products and treatments to efficiently reduce its appearance. Of the many layers of the skin, the outermost layer – the epidermis, and the layer just below that – the dermis, are both subject to hyperpigmentation.

Epidermal hyperpigmentation is generally quite treatable but affected areas can still take several months of treatment before seeing results – depending on the extent of the hyperpigmentation. Dermal hyperpigmentation however is more difficult to treat, having penetrated deeper into the skin, and in some cases can be permanent. Regular treatment however can still improve this but it may not remove the hyperpigmentation altogether if it has reached the dermal layer.

👉🏾 First, know your skin.

It’s essential to start your skincare journey correctly by knowing whether you have any pre-existing conditions such as acne, psoriasis or other skin conditions caused by trauma. to the skin could be the cause of hyperpigmentation. Treating the root cause of dark spots is the best and most long-term way to prevent any further darkening of the skin.

👉🏾 Second, get professional advice and treatment

Effectively reducing or removing hyperpigmentation requires skincare treatments administered by certified aestheticians. An initial consultation is required to determine the causes and severity of hyperpigmentation to pave the way for an effective treatment plan. Treatments for hyperpigmentation may include:

  • Chemical peels or
  • Microdermabrasion or
  • Microneedling

👉🏾 Third use the right products, correctly

Recently we spoke about the difference between cosmeceutical-grade and pharmaceutical-grade products and how vital it is to be educated about what grade of products to use on your skin. This has never been more true than with cases of hyperpigmentation.

In order to reduce and slowly reverse the effects of hyperpigmentation, a prescribed medical-grade at-home treatment regime is essential. This may include safe skin-lightening products which are applied directly to the skin or those that promote skin turnover. These work by reducing the production of melanin to slowly fade the hyperpigmentation areas back to match the rest of your skin.

Our top picks for at-home hyperpigmentation treatment in combination with an in-clinic treatment plan include:

🙅🏾‍♀️ Preventing hyperpigmentation

By knowing the basic causes of hyperpigmentation, it’s easier to understand what needs to be done to prevent hyperpigmentation or any further development of it.
  1. Sun Protection – It’s critical to protect your skin from harmful UV rays, even on cloudy days these harmful rays can affect your skin and possibly cause pigmentation
  2. Keep skin moisturised to maintain a healthy skin barrier
  3. Avoid home extractions at all costs
  4. Seek professional treatment: Underlying conditions that contribute to hyperpigmentation need to be treated professionally to avoid further damage
For any more questions relating to hyperpigmentation, do not hesitate to get in touch with the team at Skin Truth™!

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