If you have skin discolorations on your face or body, you may have hyperpigmentation. It’s the clinical term for small patches of dark spots—freckles, age spots and more—that become darker in color than the normal surrounding skin. Levels of overall health, stress, sun exposure, medications or other factors can affect the condition, which is seen in all skin types—whether you’re Caucasian, African-American, Hispanic or Asian.
Prevention is the key to avoiding hyperpigmentation. But, the good news is that it’s treatable, though treatments must be ongoing to be effective.
Excess melanin is the cause
The cause starts deep, at the cellular level. Melanocytes are cells that produce melanin, a complex molecule responsible for the pigment in our skin, hair and eyes. Melanin actually helps protect against the sun’s UV rays. But, as our skin ages, we can sometimes experience less control over our pigmentation cycle.
DNA damage to the skin cells from sunburn, scarring from blemishes, and discoloration from skin rashes leads to an over-production of melanin. When excess melanin distribution is interrupted, that creates deposits of color in layers of skin where it doesn’t belong, resulting in a kind of tattoo effect that can stay indefinitely unless treated.
Ongoing treatment is the solution
Hyperpigmentation is a permanent injury to the skin. These disorders do not fade or go away overnight and must be managed daily. Treatment requires the due diligence of the esthetician and continued compliance by the client. Clinical treatments, continued use of skin lighteners and daily protection of SPF must become a lifestyle to manage these challenging pigmentation conditions.
As with other skin conditions, many ingredients, products and treatments may help lessen the appearance of dark spots. The following have been successful:
Tyrosinase inhibitors (whitening agents, often plant-based) are the most common depigmenting agents to treat many discoloration disorders.
Chemical peeling continues to be one of the most popular and effective methods of treating hyperpigmentation.
The condition is complicated and stubborn, and, like other skin problems, can lower your confidence and keep you from doing the things you like. If you suffer from hyperpigmentation, it’s time to contact your esthetician for consultation and treatment advice. Don’t let this condition blemish your lifestyle!