Skincare industry legend Dr Nick Lowe explains: “UVA stimulates your pigment cells called Melanocytes to manufacture the pigment called Melanin. This is responsible for our tan and also our unwanted dark patches”. These sun spots may take up to 10-20 years to develop, so if you notice some showing now it could have been caused when you were a child.
What is Skin Pigmentation?
Pigmentation is a condition that darkens patches of our skin. These patches can be large or small. While the condition isn’t harmful, it can be a symptom of an underlying medical issue and can cause our skin to look uneven and unhealthy. This skin discoloration, commonly known as skin pigmentation is often a result of sun exposure (UV rays), hormonal changes, genetics, medications (such as birth control pills), pregnancy, skin aging or the wrong use of skin care products, just to name a few.
Skin pigmentation also called as Hyper Pigmentation is a condition in which there is excessive production of melanin. Melanin is responsible for determining our skin tone. But the excessive production of it causes dark patches on our skin.
What causes Hyper Pigmentation?
Both external damage as well as internal factors can start Hyper-pigmentation in people with Pigmentation-prone skin.
External factors may include harmful cosmetic products, excessive sun exposure, and anything that causes redness of skin, inflammation, injuries, acne, and procedures such as laser, chemical peeling, bleaching, derma rollers, scrubbing, heat, waxing, plucking.
Internal factors may include – diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid problems and allergies, hormonal changes due to puberty, pregnancy, menopause, hormone medicine, contraceptive pills, steroids, drugs or medications. In many cases, Pigmentation prone skin is genetically inherited from family members.
To sum up these factors can lead to the development of hyper pigmentation in your skin:
- Excessive exposure to the sun
- Skin damage from injury
- Hormonal changes
- Genetic predisposition
- Allergic reactions
- Improper hair removal
Different Types of Hyper Pigmentation?
The most common type of pigmentation is ephelides, or freckles. These develop after repeated exposure to sunlight, particularly if you have a fair complexion. They appear darker during the sunny months and fade in the winter. Heredity also influences freckling.
Also referred to as liver spots or sun spots, these are pigmented spots with a clearly defined edge. They may occur anywhere on the body and vary in color from light brown to black. These spots are caused by UV sun exposure and the degree depends on how much UV light these melanin pigments are exposed to. These must be monitored as they may develop into skin cancer and melanoma. Annual checks with your skin specialist are essential.
Melasma or chloasma is pigmentation that is deeper in the skin’s dermis. It appears on the face as larger brown patches with a non-distinct border. This type of pigmentation is more common in women. Though causes are unknown, it is often stimulated by hormonal increases. The condition is made worse with UV exposure, some medications, pregnancy and stress.
Post-inflammatory hyper pigmentation-
This is a response to injury of the skin and can be the result of acne, burns, friction or aggressive clinical treatments such as chemical peels, dermabrasion, laser and IPL. This condition often resolves with time and generally responds to topical products, although it can recur.
How to Treat Hyper Pigmentation?
- Get Familiar with different types of Hyper Pigmentation mentioned above.
- Discuss your condition with a dermatologist. – See a dermatologist to find out what type of hyper pigmentation is affecting your skin.
- Seek Treatment either professionally or try few home remedies depending on the severity of skin pigmentation.