Dark areas... freckles... uneven skin tone... dull complexion... sun spots... liver spots... discoloration... these are all ways to describe something that most of us deal with at one time or another — hyperpigmentation. But what exactly is hyperpigmentation, how did we end up with it, and how can we get rid of it, so we can get our beautiful even complexion back, and move on with our lives? Let’s dive in and find out!
What is hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is most simply described as an uneven discoloration of the skin. Excess pigmentation in the skin causes skin cells to become darker than the ones around them, creating dark patches of skin that stand out from the rest.
Melanin is the pigment that gives color to our skin, and when excess melanin is produced, areas of the skin become darker, causing hyperpigmentation to occur.
What Causes Hyperpigmentation?
Medications: Some medications can cause skin to be ultra sensitive to sun exposure, making it more likely that dark spots will occur. Cancer treatments, some antibiotics, acne drugs, and anti-seizure medications are among some of the most likely culprits to watch out for.
Hormones: If you’ve ever been pregnant, you’ve likely heard of (or been a victim of) the “mask of pregnancy.” Otherwise known as Melasma, this hormone induced darkening of the skin, usually on the forehead, cheeks, upper lip, belly, and hands, gets worse with sun exposure, and is due to an increase in hormones coursing through the body.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation: Sometimes after an injury, the skin at the site of the injury will be dark for at time. This is commonly seen with acne scarring and is the body’s natural reaction to inflammation.
Too much sun: Overexposure to the sun can give you a nice glow, but over time it can also leave behind sun spots, age spots, and discoloration on the hands and face.
Getting Rid of Hyperpigmentation
Now for the big question? Can we get rid of our hyperpigmentation and have the bright, clear complexion we want?
The answer is yes, according to Jennifer Linder, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and fellowship-trained Mohs skin cancer surgeon. “The good news,” says Dr. Linder, who herself struggled with hyperpigmentation as an adult, “is that with the right combination of professional treatments and daily care products, we can lift existing hyperpigmentation and inhibit its continual formation.”
Steps to Treat Hyperpigmentation
Prevention - The first step in treating hyperpigmentation is to begin the process of prevention. While in some cases there is little you can do about hormone levels, we can control the amount of UV light we expose our skin to. Protect your skin from the sun by applying sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, and remember to reapply every two hours.
Meet with a professional - Next, make an appointment with your favorite licensed esthetician and put a game plan together. Depending on the severity of the pigmentation problem, and how much it bothers you, there are many options available to you:
Skin brightening and lightening products - Products designed to lessen the effects of hyperpigmentation can be incorporated into your daily routine to gradually diminish dark spots and dull skin. Typical ingredients effective in reducing hyperpigmentation, and typically found in reputable products include hydroquinone, arbutin, kojic acid, and azelaic acid. PCA skin has an excellent line of products to treat varying degrees of hyperpigmentation, such as the Pigment Bar and the Pigment Gel. A trip to visit your licensed esthetician will help you determine which products would be best for your particular type and severity of pigmentation.
Chemical peels - To increase cell turnover and help lighten pigmentation, a professional can administer a chemical peel which can help minimize nearly all types of hyperpigmentation. These typically include higher levels of ingredients found in your over-the-counter skin lightening products, and usually work faster. Always employ the expertise of a licensed professional who can help you determine which treatments will best help your particular situation.
Microdermabrasion - Another option is Microdermabrasion, which is another way of removing darkened skin and improving cell turnover. The procedure also boosts collagen production, which can result in a more even looking skin tone.
Micro-needling or Dermarolling - Using a procedure where tiny needles are injected at a rapid rate into the skin, either with an electric pen or a roller device, the deep layers of skin that cannot be reached with chemical peels, Microdermabrasion, or lightening treatments are targeted. A very small amount of damage is caused beneath the skin...just enough to inspire the body to dissolve old tissue and produce new collagen and cells at a rapid rate, turning over younger healthier skin with a bright clear tone. Micro-needling and dermarolling is essentially painless, as the needles are very small and short. It feels very similar to microdermabrasion actually, and the depth of the needles are adjustable. If a more aggressive approach is required, a numbing cream is used to make the process comfortable for all involved.
If dark patches or an uneven complexion are troubling you, don’t waste another moment. You can take control of your beauty and the health of your skin today. Call us (530-305-3908) at the Stonehouse Spa and Boutique.