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Skin Hyperpigmentation: Causes and Remedies
- Hyperpigmentation is a form of skin discoloration that appears as darkened patches on the skin’s surface
- Melasma is a form of this heightened pigmentation skin problem and often occurs during pregnancy
- Sun damaged skin is the most common grounds for hyperpigmentation as excess UV exposure causes sporadic dark patches to form on the skin’s surface
- A microdermabrasion treatment is one way of reducing the effects of hyperpigmentation
One of the most common skin problems is skin hyperpigmentation. When this occurs, parts of your skin darken in contrast to your normal skin color. The patches could be tan or dark brown. For some people, the patches are small. Age spots would be a good example of these smaller areas. For other people, the patches can be very large and noticeable. This is often the case with melasma, a type of skin hyperpigmentation that occurs during pregnancy. Understanding the causes and treatment options is the first step to dealing with this problem.
Causes of Skin Hyperpigmentation
A number of factors can lead to the development of hyperpigmentation. In many cases, the culprit is sun damage. Age spots, for example, are not a result of getting older but of cumulative sun damage showing up in the later years as these discolored areas. Pregnant women suffer from hyperpigmentation thanks to changes in their hormone levels, as a result some women who birth control pills cane sometimes experience melasma as well. Skin injuries and some types of diseases can also lead to this problem.
Regardless of what triggers hyperpigmentation, the result is that too much melanin (the chemical in our skin that gives it color) is produced and it begins to collect in specific areas of our skin. The higher concentration of melanin in those places leads to the discolored appearance.
Hyperpigmentation Treatment Options
The most commonly used form of hyperpigmentation treatment is bleaching. Basically, you would use certain products, such as Hydroquinone, to stop the production of melanin so that your skin will eventually regain its even skin color. These products are available in pharmacies and from dermatologists, but should be used in low concentrations (around 4% is recommended).
Another option is sometimes called a Hydroxy Acid Peel. With this method, chemicals are applied to the discolored areas of your skin. The chemicals, such as salicyclic acid, cause your upper layers of skin to peel away leaving behind fresh pink skin. This type of treatment is often available at local spas in lose strengths and could be useful to treat mild cases or small patches of hyperpigmentation. For more serious cases, you’ll need to see a dermatologist.
Laser resurfacing is also a popular option. This procedure should only be done by a qualified dermatologist or physician, however. Basically, a laser tool is used to point a CO2 laser at the areas of your skin which are discolored. The tool allows for excellent accuracy. The laser destroys the upper layers of skin where the melanin has been pooling so new skin will be able to grow. The procedure can be a bit uncomfortable so many doctors offer a local anesthetic to ease the pain. One advantage of laser resurfacing over similar techniques, such as dermabrasion, is that little bleeding is involved.
Other treatment options include certain types of prescription-strength ointments, microdermabrasion, and pulsed laser treatments. Before you choose any of these methods, be sure you and your physician have determined the underlying cause of the hyperpigmentation so it won’t come back after you complete the treatment.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
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