Hyperpigmentation can be a rather general term that covers a wide range of skin conditions; including sun spots, melasma and liver spots. It results in patches of skin that are darker than the surrounding area. Hyperpigmentation can affect anyone, no matter what your skin color, and is usually caused by excess production of melatonin. The opposite condition, Vitiligo, is when the body does not produce enough melatonin causing patches of the skin to become lighter.
In rarer cases, hyperpigmentation may indicate a more serious condition such as Graves’ disease, mercury poisoning or Cushing’s disease. If your skin develops hyperpigmentation, alongside any other symptoms; such as muscle weakness or numbness, you should consult a medical doctor to confirm a benign diagnosis.
Hyperpigmentation can be alarming; particularly when occurring in more visible locations such as the face or hands, it is generally only cosmetic and can be treated quite easily with an appropriate skin cream or lotion. The hardest part can be trying to find the right product among the many skin lightening creams and lotions on the market. You need to understand what the cause of your hyperpigmentation is and then look at the reviews for the products that will best suit your condition and skin type.
Reducing Visible Hyperpigmentation
Different causes of hyperpigmentation require different treatments. The most common and annoying varieties cause harmless patches of darkened skin to appear on the face and can be easily treated with a skin lightening cream or lotion. However the huge range of options available can be overwhelming. So perusing the more in-depth product discussion available on the Skin Lightening Beauty Guide can be helpful. The change in skin tone can be related to hormonal changes, acne, over exposure of the sun. Thankfully there are a variety of creams, lotions and therapies that can reduce the appearance immediately. There are also options that can permanently lighten or completely remove the hyperpigmentation.
The other thing to start doing immediately if you want to prevent further development of your hyperpigmented area is to start using a good sunscreen. This is particularly important if you have darker skin. Darker skin doesn’t show the obvious signs of sun damaged skin as strongly as light skin. The sun still damages the skin with its ultraviolet rays. But despite the lack of blistering redness or peeling – . It’s possible that one of the reasons for certain types of hyperpigmentation occuring more frequently in women with darker skin is because of a tendency to believe that sun UV rays don’t affect them as much as a lighter skinned woman. Unfortunately, that has been proven to be a myth. Dark skin is just as easily damaged, and in some cases even more so, than lighter tones.
These are the grey-brown or brown dark patches that generally appear on the cheeks or forehead, or sometimes on the nose or chin. The appearance is blotchy but quite symmetrical. In some cases the melasma may look like a large freckle or a freckled spot. But it may also cover the entire area of the upper lip in a splotchy darker color, part, or all of the forehead, and often both cheeks.
Melasma can be the hardest type of skin hyperpigmentation to treat. As a change in hormones often causes melasma. It is particularly common during pregnancy. If this is the cause, or the most likely cause, often the recommendation will be to simply wait it out. Often the patch will start to lighten and completely disappear after pregnancy and breastfeeding have returned hormonal levels to normal. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melasma
Treatment of Melasma
If the melasma is likely due to pregnancy hormones it is recommended that you speak to your OB-GYN or midwife before using any creams or treatments, as they can have an effect on your unborn child. However, for any other cause of melasma there are a few options.
One thing to be aware of when looking for ways to reduce your melasma is that it’s often a genetic condition. What that means is that you will likely find that it returns in the future. So will need to treat it again. As with other forms of hyperpigmentation, wearing a good UV sunscreen and trying to limit your exposure to harmful UV rays (which can also be found in some tanning equipment) can help reduce incidences.
Creams containing hydroquinone have had good results in reducing the production on melanin, which can aid the removal of melasma. There have been no studies of the effects of hydroquinone during pregnancy (or not enough to warrant firm guidelines on its use) so only use hydroquinone with extreme care under medical guidance. Creams, lotions and ointments containing hydroquinone are available over the counter at a lower than 2% solution. You can also get them on prescription from your doctor or skin specialist at a 4% solution.
Another treatment option that has been shown to be both safe and helpful is microdermabrasion. This is a technique that uses minute particles, usually of a very fine sand, to exfoliate the layers of skin. Microdermabrasion has limited effect on hyperpigmentation that is very dark; but is very effective on lighter patches with less contrast between the hyperpigmentation and normal skin tone.
Chemical & Acidic Options
If you like the idea of an exfoliating option, you might consider a chemical peel. This can be done at as a spa treatment, with your dermatologist, or you can look at a range of at-home options. Chemical peels will generally brighten up dull looking skin and help reduce the appearance of dark spots. But as with microdermabrasion, they are more suitable for a lighter contrasting form of hyperpigmentation. This can make chemical peels a good option for naturally darker skin tones. Most peels include lactic, salicylic, glycolic or other similar acidic ingredients.
Looking more at acidic options, a commonly used lightener is the naturally forming kojic acid. Sometimes used with a hydroquinone preparation, kojic acid is made from either a fungus or as a byproduct of rice wine. People can have allergic reactions so it is generally only used in small amounts. Although Kojic acid has had great results with a range of hyper pigmentation issues and overall skin lightening, the effects can take several months of use before they become noticeable.