Hyperpigmentation refers to a condition where dark spots and patches, of light brown or black, appear on the hands, face and other visible body parts when they are exposed to the sun. These spots can be difficult to hide and they vary in shape and size. The main cause of hyperpigmentation is when melanin is overproduced in certain areas of the skin.
Types of Hyperpigmentation
Age spots : These are as a result of sun exposure and therefore appear on body parts that are frequently exposed. They are usually small dark patches on the skin.
Chloasma or Melasma : This affects 90% of women and has been dabbed ‘the mask of pregnancy.’ It normally results from hormonal influences like birth control pills and pregnancy. Its appearance is usually dark irregular shapes on the arms and face which can be pretty large.
Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation : This is in reference to the discoloration left after a skin injury or trauma heals. This is common with acne sufferers.
Major Causes Of Hyperpigmentation
1- Sun Exposure
The sun triggers the production of melanin. Melanin normally acts as a natural sunscreen for your skin, providing protection from harmful UV rays. However, excessive exposure to sun can lead to hyperpigmentation. Moreover, the sun exposure can exacerbate the dark spots forming freckles.
You can prevent this by wearing protective clothing and using a high SPF sunscreen.
2- Hormonal Influences
This is the main cause of Chloasma or Melasma hyperpigmentation which is common among women. This is because female hormones estrogen and progesterone have been found to stimulate overproduction of melanin once exposed to the sun.
Having certain genes makes you more prone to hyperpigmentation. People in certain age groups are more prone to hyperpigmentation. This is mostly tied with hormonal production at these various ages.
4- Skin Injuries or Inflammation
This is the main cause of Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation can also be a side effect of certain illnesses or more prevalent in certain jobs and occupations.
Treatment of Hyperpigmentation
There are multiple dermatological treatments with anti-pigmentation treatment procedures. Here are some few examples:
Laser Therapy : This treatment involves ‘zapping’ the problem areas with high energy light whose intensity can be controlled. Depending on the intensity, the treatment can either work on the epidermis or surface layer or on the deepest skin layer.
Chemical Peels : This treatment involves the application of an acidic solution on the layers of the ski, be it face, hands or feet. These eventually causes the skin to blister and peel off, leaving you with a new and evenly pigmented skin.
Skin Care Products : There are multiple skin care products that claim to have the power to reduce hyperpigmentation. Some common ingredients in such products include Arbutin, hydroquinone, kojic acid, Vitamin C derivatives, retinoid acid, azelaic acid, and B-resorcinol among others.