What is hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is patches of skin that become darker than the surrounding skin. When (melanocytes) pigment-producing cells make too much melanin and cause dark patches on the face. Hyperpigmentation can appear on any part of the body, usually on these areas: chin, cheeks, face, forehead, and bridge of the nose. While this condition does not pose any risks to our health, it can cause stress and frustration for those who suffer from it.
Melanin is a pigment produced by cells called melanocytes in the skin of most animals, including humans. The pigment gives human skin, hair, and eyes color. Melanin comes in two basic forms depending on the genetic makeup of the individual. This pigment can range from yellow to red in color and dark brown. Eumelanin is the most common form of melanin and is dark brown to black, which plays the biggest role in skin pigmentation. The other form is pheomelanin, yellow to red, often associated with red hair and freckles.
Melanin’s main function is to protect from UV damage. That is why it is produced when there is an external danger like UV rays, free radicles, Inflammation, or injury.
What causes hyperpigmentation on the skin?
Many factors can cause hyperpigmentation including, Inflammation, sun damage, hormones or other skin injuries. Individuals with darker skin tone are more susceptible to hyperpigmentation, especially with overexposure to the sun.
Hyperpigmentation comes in different forms.
✔ Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
✔ Age spots
✔ Freckles and Melasma
Hyperpigmentation affects people of all skin tones. However, it tends to affect darker skin types more than people with fair skin tone, and women have more issues with hyperpigmentation than men.
Sun exposure: The number one cause of hyperpigmentation is sun damage. When triggered by harmful UV rays, melanocytes respond by producing more melanin which acts as a natural sunscreen. The overproduction of melanin causes dark patches on the skin.
Hormonal changes: When hormone level goes up and down, side effects change in pigmentation known as melasma. Mostly seen during pregnancy, change in birth control, and hormonal therapies. Extra hormones stimulate the production of melanin. Pregnant women often develop dark patches on the cheeks, forehead, or chin. This type of hyperpigmentation fade after pregnancy or hormonal level return to balance.
Skin Inflammation: We have heard this many times… dark spots develop after Inflammation or an injury to the skin. Anything from a cut to popping your pimple can damage the skin, leading to melanin’s overproduction when suffering from acne, eczema, allergic reaction, or any skin damage. After a wound occurs, the skin copes with it by producing an inflammatory reaction. As the wound heals, the skin naturally produces more melanin which darkens the skin. Inflammation often leads to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Does hyperpigmentation go away on its own?
Hyperpigmentation depends on many factors like:
● How deep are the dark spots, superficial hyperpigmentation fades faster than deeper marks?
● Cause of pigmentation: burn marks fade away slowly than marks left after an insect bite or slight scratching.Some of the marks will fade away with time, whereas some might require treatment, it might take years or decades.
Types of Hyperpigmentation
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, also known as PIH, occurs after Inflammation, injury, or trauma such as insect bite, acne, injury or scratch to the skin. It appears as a discolored patch that is left behind after the wound has healed. Any form of irritation triggers the melanocytes to produce more pigment, resulting in dark spots where the injury took place.
When we have Post Inflammatory hyperpigmentation, sun exposure can also worsen existing dark spots.
How can you treat (PIH) POST INFLAMMATORY HYPERPIGMENTATION
- Retinoids: Retinoids are Vitamin A products that can penetrate deep into the skin and restrict melanin production. They also boost cell turnover to reveal fresh, more even-toned skin.
Retinol will give a smoother skin texture, refined pores, improve collagen production, and brighten the complexion.
- Vitamin C : another ingredient you will want to add to your skincare routine for battling hyperpigmentation is Vitamin C. This antioxidant is effective for hyperpigmentation and a whole range of solutions. Vitamin C can help brighten acne spots gently over time. So, we should never forget to add Vitamin C to our skincare regimen to get soft, younger, and healthy skin.
- Exfoliation: Gentle exfoliation can help lift dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. Exfoliation increases cell turnover causing pigmented cells to slough off to the skin surface and heals acne scars. Using skincare ingredients such as Alpha Hydroxy acids and Beta Hydroxy acids. Azelaic acid is also a really effective ingredient that helps to exfoliate and brighten dark spots
- Sunscreen: Darker skin tone has built-in sunscreen, making it difficult for UV rays to pass through. However, UV radiation can cause skin damage to both fair and darker skin tones. So, wearing sunscreen is a must for everyone. Especially if we want to keep hyperpigmentation at bay, sunscreen can protect our skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. So, it is essential to wear a good quality sunscreen that offers UVA and UVB protection with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Click the links below to see some products that contain the active ingredients that can help deal with Post inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Next week, we will discuss Melasma.
See you !