How to avoid, treat and diminish hyperpigmentation

Struggling with an uneven skin tone? This is probably due to hyperpigmentation. Here’s what causes it, how to prevent it, and the various treatment options available

Do you have patches on your face or body that are darker than the rest of your skin? This is known as hyperpigmentation, and it’s when too much melanin is produced in these areas.

Hyperpigmentation can be divided into four types, namely:

  1. Medical conditions: Some conditions, such as Addison’s disease, can result in darker patches of skin. This affects the adrenal gland, triggering an increased production of melanin.
  2. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation: Everyone’s skin reacts to certain traumas differently. Some people – especially those with darker skin tones – can develop dark scars after skin lesions.
  3. Melasma: Also known as the ‘mask of pregnancy, melasma affects mainly pregnant women. This is a result of hormonal changes. It is usually most prominent on the forehead, upper lip, nose, and cheeks.
  4. Sun damage: One of the most common types of hyperpigmentation is damage caused by exposure to UV rays. These often start appearing as we age in the form of dark spots or freckles on the face, hands, and neck area.

Preventing hyperpigmentation

When it comes to hyperpigmentation, prevention is better (easier and cheaper!) than a cure. While this is not always possible, everyone can probably improve their sun safety. Not only can this prevent pigmentation problems and delay the visible onset of aging, but it also lowers your risk of developing skin cancer.

It’s also important to always seek out the shade, avoid tanning and apply (and reapply) a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily. This will stand you in good stead for a clear complexion and healthy skin.

Treatment options

Some types of hyperpigmentation, while aggravated by exposure to the sun, are unavoidable. Fortunately, there are various treatment options available to target this common skin issue.

The most common in-office treatment for reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation are peels and laser therapy. These can be done over the course of a few sessions using a targeted approach by your dermatologist. There are also products that can be used at home, such as retinoids, chemical exfoliants, and prescriptions topicals. Often a dual approach can yield the best and brightest results.

While both of these approaches have shown vast improvements to people’s complexions, there is no miracle cure. These treatments take time to work and may lighten, but not completely remove, dark spots.

If you are struggling with hyperpigmentation, consult with a board-certified dermatologist before attempting any type of treatment. This can give you accurate insights so that you can manage your expectations and proceed with care.

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