What is Hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is a fairly common skin condition, which occurs as a result of the overproduction of melanin along the skin’s surface. Melanin is the pigment that gives our skin its normal color – when it is overproduced it can often create dark spots and patches of discoloration that appear darker than the skin surrounding it.
Types of Hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation is common among nearly all skin types. The most common forms of hyperpigmentation include:
- Sun & ‘Wisdom’ (we don’t like to call them age spots!) Spots – Sometimes referred to as liver spots, medically they are known as ‘solar lentigines.’ These are the most common form of hyperpigmentation, found most often in older adults. Generally, they are characterized by small brown or tan areas of discoloration – appearing most often on the face, hands, neck and other areas left exposed to the sun over long periods of time.
- Melasma – This condition is characterized mainly by larger patches of darkened, discolored skin. Melasma most commonly occurs on the face, but can sometimes occur on the body. The condition is more common in women, and can also be caused by pregnancy or taking birth control pills. Also, those with darker skin types have a higher likelihood of developing melasma.
- Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation – This form of hyperpigmentation appears as a result of an inflammatory skin condition, such as acne or eczema. Generally, if a patient suffers from an inflammatory skin issue, no matter the age, race or gender, they can develop this type of discoloration.
Causes of Hyperpigmentation
- Over Exposure to the Sun – Causes the body to produce excess melanin as a defense mechanism against the sun’s harmful UV rays. It is the main cause of sun and age spots.
- Inflammation – Again, as a result of an inflammatory skin condition such as acne, lupus, eczema, and even some general cuts or scrapes – the body will create dark spots in the healing area. This is more common in darker sky types.
- Hormones – When the body experiences change in hormones, the skin may form brown spots. This is usually melasma.
- Allergic Reactions – Whether it be a result of medications like antidepressants, antibiotics or certain topical creams, the body can experience adverse reactions which will cause the skin to turn dark brown, black or even grey – in patches and spots.
Treatment of Hyperpigmentation
There are a wide variety of treatments for hyperpigmentation that range from the simple use of sunscreens, to prescription creams to laser therapies.
- Laser Skin Resurfacing – Helps remove the outer layer of skin and stimulate skin stem cells to generate fresh, new skin.
- IPL Laser Therapy – Intense pulsed light therapy, uses an intense beam of light energy to target and obliterate the darker pigmentation.
- Chemical Peels – Help to resurface the skin’s outer layer and reduce the presence of dark spots and discoloration.
- Topical Creams – Depending on the specifics of your hyperpigmentation, Dr. Lodha may also recommend the use of certain topical creams that help to brighten the skin or reduce inflammation. Some of these include – corticosteroids, hydroquinone, retinoids, and kojic acid.
For more information on these specific treatment methods, or to schedule a consultation, feel free to contact us at Pura Dermatology today.
DISCLAIMER: All information described here is a guideline. For true diagnosis and treatment, evaluation with a physician is mandatory. Treatments and symptoms discussed here are also a guideline and do not represent all treatments or all symptoms for any condition.