Hyperpigmentation (increased pigmentation) is a condition that causes the skin to darken, either in small or large patches.
Hyperpigmentation is the bane of so many people’s lives – if you have it, you have probably tried numerous products with limited success, and you have no idea where to turn to for further advice.
Only those who have it, know just how distressing it can be, and we all know someone who will try anything to improve it. As prevention is your first line of treatment, daily applying sunblock should be a part of your skincare routine.
There are several types of hyperpigmentation;
Melasma is a common skin problem. It causes grey-brown patches, usually on the face – cheeks, bridge of the nose, forehead, and shin and above the upper lip. It can also appear in other parts of the body that get lots of sun, such as the forearms and neck.
One of the most common treatments for melasma is sun protection and a wide-brimmed hat when you are outside. It is so familiar during pregnancy that melasma is sometimes called “the mask of pregnancy”. Hormones seem to trigger melasma. Melasma appears on women’s skin much more often than men’s skin. Just 10% of people who get melasma are men. People with darker skin, such as Latin/Hispanic, North African, African-American, Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern or Mediterranean descent are more likely to get melasma. Individuals who have blood relatives who have melasma are also much more likely to get the condition.
Choose gentle skin care products that don’t sting or burn, as products that irritate the skin may worsen melasma.
Avoid waxing as this may cause skin inflammation which can worsen melasma. It is vital to avoid waxing areas of the body affected by the condition.
Other common triggers for melasma include not just sun exposure and pregnancy, but also birth control pills and cosmetics.
Ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun stimulates the melanocytes. In fact, just a small amount of sun exposure can make melasma return after fading and a reason why people with melasma will get it again and again.
Here at The Institute of Aesthetic Options, we can treat your melasma problems very efficiently.
Sunspots or solar lentigines are common. They are related to excess sun exposure over time.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is a result of an injury to the skin.
Depending on the cause, pigmentation can either lie superficially in the top layers of the skin (epidermis) or much deeper, at the epidermal-dermal junction (the junction between the top and middle layers of your skin) or anywhere in between.
Sunspots (solar lentigines) tend to lie nearer the surface of your skin and are caused by previous sun damage, most likely from time spend in the sun as a child. It has been estimated that 90% of long-term sun damage occurs before the age of 7. Sun exposure can increase melanin production. More significant exposure to the sun increases the risk of developing hyperpigmentation. With the passing years, this sun damage rises to the surface and presents as sunspots which indeed age us. In darker skins, it appears as irregular dark patches.
Hormonal pigmentation lies much deeper and is caused by a darkening of your melanin-producing cells called melanocytes, under the influence of hormones. Estrogen is the main culprit, and for this reason, we usually find hormonal pigmentation in women, although men are not entirely immune.
Hormonal pigmentation tends to worsen with the contraceptive pill and pregnancy and is exacerbated by sun and heat exposure.
This pigmentation is generally what causes the “mask of pregnancy”, or melasma. The usual distribution is symmetrically over the cheeks, upper lip, and forehead.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is a darkening of areas of the skin where inflammation has occurred. Typically, this occurs in darker skins and may occur after a pimple, an ingrown hair, trauma to the skin, a reaction to the skin product, or a deep chemical peel, or due to repetitive friction on an area (such as elbows), knuckles of the fingers, and heels of the feet.
Exposure to the sun causes melanocytes to produce more melanin (darker pigment) as a protective measure. Regular sun exposure without the use of sunblock and a hat will lead to a gradual darkening of the skin, which results in a tan in light skin, and often a patchy, uneven appearance in dark skins. Over the long term, sun exposure also causes a breakdown of collagen, causing more fine lines and wrinkles to appear.
Certain medications can cause hyperpigmentation. Also, some chemotherapy drugs can cause hyperpigmentation as a side effect.
Pregnancy changes hormone levels and can affect melanin production in some women.
Endocrine diseases like Addison’s disease, disrupt hormone levels and can increase melanin production.
Treatment of hyperpigmentation involves a multi-level approach and differs according to the level where the pigmentation lies. For best results, a patient needs to do a combination of home and aesthetic treatments and should expect results over a few weeks to months, rather than an instant fix.
Here, at The Institute of Aesthetic Options, our patients will have a consultation with our aesthetic doctor or professionally qualified aesthetician who will assess their skin and cause of pigmentation and work out a treatment plan that is best suited to our patient.
Although hyperpigmentation is notoriously difficult to treat, there have been many advances in the aesthetic industry about pigmentation treatments.
Hyperpigmentation can be treated with topical prescription medication in some cases. The medication usually contains hydroquinone, which bleaches skin and it can take a few months to lighten darkened areas.
Home care sometimes includes over-the-counter medications that may lighten dark spots. These medicines don’t contain as much hydroquinone as prescription medications. Home care also includes using sunscreen.
Here at The Institute of Aesthetic Options, we do laser, Radio Frequency (RF) treatments, Pixel with ultrasound and peels.
There are very few patients with Hyperpigmentation that we will not be able to improve.
As, laser is considered one of the best options in the world to removing pigmentation, whatever the cause, we make use of the best FDA approved equipment possible. Multiple treatments over time usually give a fantastic result in the appearance of dark areas and can be used for all skin types throughout the year.
Hyperpigmentation is not harmful and usually isn’t a sign of a severe medical condition. In some cases, darkened areas of the skin fade on their own. In others, the dark spots fade with treatments. Even if treatments can’t completely reverse hyperpigmentation, it may improve the condition.
Possible conditions for increased skin pigmentation include;
The signs and symptoms of contact dermatitis – occur when your skin is exposed to an allergen or irritant. Common symptoms of both types of contact dermatitis include read and itchy skin.
Stasis Dermatitis and Ulcers
Ringworm of the Body (Tinea Corporis) – ringworm is a contagious skin infection causing a small, itchy, ring-shaped rash. It’s not a worm. We break down what causes it and how to treat it
Eczema – is characterised by itchy, dry, rough, flaky, inflamed, and irritated skin. It can flare up, subside, and then flare up again.
Tinea Vesicular – is a condition characterised by lighter or darker patches of skin. It is caused by a fungus on your skin that grows out of control.
Addison’s Disease – occurs when the adrenal cortex is damaged, and the adrenal glands do not produce enough of the steroid hormones cortisol and aldosterone.
Cushing Syndrome – occurs due to abnormally high levels of cortisol. The most common cause is overuse of corticosteroids.
Addisonian Crisis (Acute Adrenal Crisis) – occurs when levels of cortisol suddenly drop. This condition is considered a medical emergency. Urgent care may be required.
Alcohol-Related Liver Disease – damage to the liver from excessive drinking can lead to ARLD. Years of alcohol abuse cause the liver to become inflamed and swollen.
Acanthosis Nigricans – is a fairly common skin pigmentation disorder, usually notable for dark patches of skin with a thick, velvety texture.
Melasma – causes patches of dark discolouration of your skin.
Medullary Cystic Disease – is a rare condition that causes cysts to form on kidneys. Kidney failure may result, symptoms of which can include changes in skin colour.
Ichthyosis Vulgaris – occurs when your skin doesn’t shed its dead skin cells. This cause dead skin cells to accumulate in patches on the surface of your skin.
End-stage – kidney disease, also known as end-stage renal disease (ESRD) the kidneys are functioning below 10% of their normal function.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) – is progressive and irreversible damage to the kidneys. The most common cause of CKD is high blood pressure and diabetes.
Glomerulonephritis (Bright’s Disease) – is a serious illness that can stop your kidneys from functioning properly.
Adrenoleukodystrophy – refers to several conditions that affect the nervous system and adrenal glands.