Hyperpigmentation, freckles, and melasma are all common skin conditions that occur when normal amounts of melanin are produced within skin cells, leading to dark pigmented spots, or patches to form on the skin’s surface. It’s key to understand the process in which hyperpigmentation occurs in the first place to control and prevent it. The overproduction of melanin caused by either the sun, hormones, or any post-inflammatory response to the skin, creates dark patches or spots. Therefore, to fade hyperpigmentation, there are three principal components which include proper prevention, correction, and the thorough maintenance of a consistent treatment plan.
The production of melanin is in the lower levels of the skin, and the pigmentation process resembles that of an assembly line. Hyperpigmentation is the excess production of melanin by the melanocyte cells of our body. Specific triggers send signals to melanin sites which activate the enzyme tyrosinase. The stimulated tyrosinase encourages melanocytes to produce excess melanin creating darker pigment. The overproduction of melanin disperses upward in clumps that show as dark spots on the surface of the skin. The sooner you prevent and correct for hyperpigmentation on the skin, the better the results. As skin ages, your body’s melanin distribution becomes more spread out, and darker spots begin to appear on your skin. To effectively treat hyperpigmentation a comprehensive approach that includes both in-office and at home skin care regimen is necessary to control and fade it.
It is best to see a dermatologist for a skin analysis. Your doctor can assess your skin type and find the main culprits behind the discoloration. Furthermore, your dermatologist can put you on the most appropriate skin care regimen, as well as do a thorough skin check to search for any signs of skin cancer due to UV damage like melanoma. The three types of hyperpigmentation are melasma, freckles (age spots) and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and all three have various effective treatment options available that are also specific to your skin tone and type.
1. Melasma is known to be a more tricky type of hyperpigmentation to correct. Hormonal fluctuations trigger excess melasma production due to estrogen and progesterone which are often found in birth control and affect the dermal layers of the skin and created dark patches on the skin. Typically melasma appears on the side of the face, cheeks, forehead, and upper lip area. Melasma looks likes splotchy patches on the skin in conjunction with a surge in hormones is affected by sun exposure.
As for treatment of melasma skin, lightening bleaching creams along with Retin-A, retinoids and retinol, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, vitamin c, also with peels like Cosmelon are all effective topical solutions that can significantly fade and reduce the appearance of melasma. The difficulty with melasma is in its potential to reoccur which is why sunscreen with all treatment protocols are essential to diminishing and in treating to correct the hyperpigmentation lesions with the reduction in reoccurrence.
2. Freckles and Age Spots. Isolated discoloration on your face and body are due to prolonged exposure for extended periods of time to harmful UV radiation either caused by sun or tanning beds. UV radiation damage causes these darkened pigmented areas to occur and therefore, besides taking the appropriate precautionary steps to evade UV ray exposure, treatment protocols that include retinol, skin brightening creams in conjunction with age spots, while also improving skin texture and tone concurrently. IPL lasers and laser resurfacing treatments can significantly diminish the look of dark age spots. IPL lasers target deep discolored UV damaged hyperpigmented areas by using light-based energy pulse to target blood vessels as well as to lift and removes dark pigmented areas from the sin. In-office peels, lasers, micro needling, and microdermabrasion, are all incredible treatments to diminish the look of darkly pigmented skin cells. Microdermabrasion, Hydrofacial which is a combination of microdermabrasion that also infuses vitamins, brightening and lightening serums, and other topical solutions that help work as anti pigmented solutions to gently remove superficial dead layers of skin cells and bring to the surface healthy new skin.
3. Post Inflammatory Pigmentation. Post any traumatic, inflammatory response to the skin (PIH) can occur in place of the inflamed area once it has healed. During an inflammatory response for instance after an acne breakout, the area on the upper layer of the skin will produce excess pigmentation that will leave a dark spot instead of where a pimple or trauma to the skin had occurred. Unlike acne scars, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is not the same as pitted or depressed texture to the skin. Cystic types of acne often leave these kinds of darker pigmented spots. Additionally, the darker the spot, the longer it takes to fade away, but with the proper treatment, it can disappear much sooner. For PIH due to acne salicylic acid, chemical peels, as well as red and blue light in- office therapies, can be highly effective. It is important to first control the active acne from forming and then work quickly to treat the hyperpigmented areas left behind. Chemical peels like salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and TCA peels are in- office medical grade peel treatments that under the appropriate guidance of a specialized dermatologist can prescribe powerfully deeper and safe peels that work best for your skin type.
Lastly, it is imperative to wear a Daily Physical Full Broad Spectrum SPF 30 and above zinc dioxide sunscreen in preventing, treating and correcting hyperpigmentation. It also lessens the chances of future hyperpigmentation for occurring.