Skin Conditions - Hyperpigmentation

by Rayna van Aalst April 23, 2017

Skin Conditions - Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation occurs when melanin is overproduced in certain spots on the skin. Melanin is the pigment primary determinant of the skin color. When melanin is produced evenly the skin becomes tanned. When the pigment is produced in an uneven way or certain areas overproduce melanin, dark spots appear.

Hyperpigmentation results in flat, darkened patches of skin which can vary in size and shape.

While people with olive and darker skin are more likely to be affected, people with lighter skin tones can still suffer from hyperpigmentation.

Causes of hyperpigmentation

Main causes of hyperpigmentation are sun exposure, hormonal changes and skin inflammation.

Probably the biggest factor in hyperpigmentation is cumulative sun exposure. Sunlight triggers the production of melanin which acts as natural sunscreen, protecting the skin from harmful UV rays. As a result, the skin gets tan. If the skin is damaged from excessive sun exposure, this process is disrupted and pigment spots called age spots appear, mainly on body parts which are frequently exposed to sun such as face, neck, decollete, hands.

The second most common cause of hyperpigmentation is imbalance of hormones which signals the skin to produce more pigment. It is commonly found among women using birth control pills or hormonal therapies in general, as well as pregnant women. Hyperpigmentation related to hormonal influence is known as melasma and is sometimes referred to as “pregnancy mask”. In many cases, the mask disappears after the birth.

Many skin types tend to have hyperpigmentation after a skin injury such as a pimple or a scrape. After the trauma heals, a dark spot is left behind. This type of hyperpigmentation is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and is common for acne-prone skin.

Other causes of hyperpigmentation are certain types of diseases, as well as side effects of medications.

Tips

  • The most important thing when dealing with hyperpigmentation is to protect your skin from the sun - use sunscreen with SPF 30 daily and reapply every 2 hours. People with darker complexions shouldn’t skip the sunscreen. Sun protection not only helps you prevent new dark spots (from sun exposure) from appearing but also stops existing dark spots from getting worse.
  • Don’t pick at your skin, especially pimples – when your skin is injured, and a pimple is injured skin, your body responds by overproducing melanin.
  • Incorporate brightening products in your skin care - well-formulated products containing vitamin C or ingredients rich in vitamin C provide a range of benefits, including helping to even out your skin tone.
  • Don’t forget to exfoliate - exfoliation removes the hyperpigmented dead cells. Don’t over exfoliate though as this can strip barrier function causing dehydration as well as inflammation.
  • If the dark spots don’t fade away or seem to be growing, consider consulting a dermatologist or a doctor.

The condition of your skin such as dehydration, sensitivity, acne, etc or a combination of them, should also be taken into consideration when selecting your skincare products. Make sure to identify your skin type first though. 

Some skin conditions require consultation by a doctor.

Please note that this content is merely a guideline, not a medical advise.

Read more about other common skin conditions dehydration, sensitivity, congested skin or acne, ageing.

 

 





Rayna van Aalst
Rayna van Aalst

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