Do you frequently notice little patches of discoloration on your body or strange dark spots on your face?
Well, these symptoms could be an indication of skin pigmentation. It happens due to an increase in melanin synthesis, which is also referred to as hyperpigmentation. Melanin is a natural pigment that gives color to our hair, eyes, and skin.
Hyperpigmentation usually appears because of sun exposure, hormonal imbalances, as well as some medications.
This article will help you understand the different types of pigmentation, the causes, the symptoms, and the treatment.
What is Pigmentation on the face?
A typical, usually harmless skin disorder in which some parts of the face are darker than the surrounding skin. It occurs when some skin cells produce an excessive amount of melanin pigment.
Hyperpigmentation can emerge as age spots, dark eyelids, facial freckles, or larger patches of darkened skin, and it can result from skin damage or inflammation, UV rays, aberrant skin growths, hormonal changes during pregnancy, or other medical disorders.
What are the Types of Skin Pigmentation?
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, melasma, and sunspots are the most prevalent types.
Melasma: Also called as “mask of pregnancy” melasma can appear during pregnancy and is believed to be brought on by hormonal fluctuations. Any part of the body can develop hyperpigmented spots, although the face and stomach are where they most frequently appear.
Sunspots: Sunspots are extremely common and are also known as liver spots or solar lentigines. They are associated with long-term, excessive sun exposure. They often emerge as spots on the face and hands, i.e., areas exposed to the sun.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation: Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation occurs when the skin cells produce more melanin in response to an injury or irritation. This is one of the skin disorders that appears as brown, tan, dark brown, or even blue-gray patches and marks on the skin.
Pictures of pigmentation on the face
Let us understand what the primary reasons behind hyperpigmentation are.
- Sun exposure: Sun exposure is the leading cause of hyperpigmentation since the sunlight causes melanin formation in the first place. People tan in the sun because melanin acts as your skin’s natural sunscreen by shielding you from the damage UV radiation may cause. Excessive sun exposure, on the other hand, can interrupt this process, resulting in hyperpigmentation.
Once dark spots have formed, exposure to the sun can worsen the problem by intensifying the darkness of melasma, age spots, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation patches.
- Hormonal changes: Melasma or chloasma is a specific type of hyperpigmentation that is mainly caused by hormonal changes. It’s more prevalent in women and is considered to be caused by the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone, which stimulate melanin overproduction when the skin is exposed to sunlight.
Several hormonal treatments can also cause hyperpigmentation.
- Age: The number of melanin-producing cells, or melanocytes, decreases with age, but those that remain, become larger and get more evenly distributed across the skin. These physiological changes contribute to the rise in age spots in people over the age of 40.
- Inflammation and skin injuries: Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, as its name implies, develops following skin damage or inflammation and includes wounds, burns, environmental toxins, acne, atopic dermatitis, or psoriasis. After the wound heals, the skin becomes darker and discolored.
- Diseases and medications: Various conditions, including auto-immune and gastrointestinal disorders, metabolic abnormalities, and vitamin deficiencies, can also lead to hyperpigmentation.
Moreover, many medicines like antimalarials, antibiotics, chemotherapeutic treatments, and anti-seizure medications can trigger it.
Symptoms and other risk factors of pigmentation
The primary signs and symptoms of hyperpigmentation are darkened skin spots. These patches or spots can appear anywhere on the body and range in size.
Sun exposure and inflammation are the two main risk factors for generalized hyperpigmentation since both conditions can enhance melanin production. The more time you spend in the sun, the more prone you are to have increased skin pigmentation.
Other risk factors for hyperpigmentation might vary depending on the disease type and may include the following –
- Pregnancy or oral contraceptive usage, as observed with melasma
- Darker skin tone, which is more vulnerable to changes in pigmentation
- Medications that make you more sensitive to sunlight
- Skin damage, such as a cut or minor burn injury
How to cure pigmentation on the face?
People generally ask how to get rid of dark necks, the pigmentation removal cream that is available in the market, and how to treat it effectively.
The pigment in brown spots penetrates deeper into the skin as time passes. Therefore, starting treatment for hyperpigmentation in its earlier stages is better.
Treatments include for hyperpigmentation:
Hydroquinone: Hydroquinone blocks tyrosinase, an enzyme responsible for melanin production. It is sometimes used in conjunction with retinoids and topical steroids. However, we recommend you bring hydroquinone to your skincare routine only under a dermatologist’s prescription.
Retinols: Retinols are used in various skin creams and are derived from vitamin A. These compounds help to relieve hyperpigmentation by suppressing the effects of tyrosinase, boosting epidermal skin regeneration, and allowing pigment granule dispersal. While some of these are over-the-counter products, others need a prescription.
So get your hands on a retinol serum that will treat pigmentation and keep all the skin aging signs at bay!
Glycolic acid: This sugarcane-derived product is used as a skin treatment to remove the skin’s outermost pigmented layers. Although glycolic acid is effective, you can still notice negative after-effects (increased pigmentation) of using it.
Topical steroids: Steroid creams have a strong anti-inflammatory impact. Hence, they tend to improve post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. However, they should be applied to the face with extreme caution since they might have adverse side effects, mainly if used for an extended period. Thus, do not use these unless prescribed by a dermatologist.
L-ascorbic acid (Vitamin C): L-ascorbic acid also competes with the enzyme tyrosinase. It is a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It is frequently used with hydroquinone formulations in skin creams to reverse pigmentation.
N-acetyl glucosamine: This amino acid has an inhibiting impact on tyrosinase and is a precursor of hyaluronic acid. It is frequently mixed with niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3, in various skin lotions. It normally has strong adaptability and may offer positive skin-lightening benefits. Thus, Hyaluronic acid serums are famous for preventing and treating pigmentation.
Laser treatment: Hyperpigmentation can be treated with laser therapy. However, this technique is often performed only if topical methods fail.
How to prevent and deal with hyperpigmentation?
Several dark spot correctors are available today, but prevention is just as necessary as treatment! In fact, more.
The following scientifically proven measures will undoubtedly help you in preventing hyperpigmentation.
- Keep skin moist to promote cell regeneration: As your primary objective with hyperpigmentation is to prevent dark spots, a good ceramide, or a moisturizer with retinol, hyaluronic acid, and glycerine may help. In addition to preventing hyperpigmentation, it also boosts cell turnover.
A moisturizer with the compounds mentioned above may help maintain the skin’s fat, lipid, and barrier. As a result, new skin cells remain healthy and rise to the skin’s surface while replacing old cells.
- Keep your hands off blackheads, bug bites, and other injuries: No matter how enticing it might be to squeeze a persistent blackhead or itch a mosquito bite, remember what your mother said, “Don’t pick”! And heed it. Picking and scratching an area can only worsen the irritation triggering the skin’s darkening.
- Explore skincare products: While shopping for skincare products, look for treatments that include licorice root, vitamin C, and acid. These ingredients help prevent pigmentation marks by controlling tyrosinase (an enzyme that produces the skin-darkening pigment melanin) production.
You may check skincare products for hyperpigmentation by Deconstruct.
- Consider a prescription for persistent skin discoloration: If you don’t trust over-the-counter products, consult a dermatologist. Generally, dermatologists suggest skin care products with hydroquinone, alone or combined with other lighteners.
High concentration of hydroquinone may bleach your skin and make it vulnerable to the sun, thus, avoid self-treating your pigmentation and let your dermatologist suggest the best hydroquinone treatment for you.
- Protection from the sun: The best approach to avoid sun-induced pigmentation is to consistently use a broad-spectrum chemical sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more every day, even on cloudy or chilly days.
SPF solely protects the skin from UVB short-wave radiation. Therefore, choose a product containing titanium dioxide, Mexoryl, zinc oxide, Parsol 1789, or avobenzone to protect your skin from UVA radiation.
Besides, avoid sun exposure between 10 AM to 2 PM (when the sun is at its hottest). If your circumstances don’t allow you for this, remember to wear a broad hat to protect your forehead, face, ears, and neck from the harsh UV rays.
- How can I remove my pigmentation?
There are various treatments for pigmentation, like retinol, chemical peels, face acids, laser peels, microdermabrasion, IPL therapy, and lightening creams available in the market.
- Can pigmentation be cured?
Yes! There are several treatments on the market, such as chemical peels, laser therapy, and topical creams. You can use these to cure or reduce facial pigmentation.
- What food can cause pigmentation?
Fried and spicy foods are highly inflammatory. You should avoid such foods if you are dealing with hyperpigmentation.
- Does stress cause pigmentation?
According to research, sleep deprivation-induced stress makes aging symptoms like fine wrinkles, loss of suppleness, and uneven pigmentation harsher.
- Can sunscreen remove pigmentation?Sunscreen with UV + VL protection is a crucial adjuvant medication to prevent hyperpigmentation from getting worse and to improve the appearance of skin disorders caused due to sun exposure.
Moreover, sunscreens can just prevent sun damange but for removing or treating pigmentation, special ingredients such as Vitamin C, Niacinamide, Alpha Arbutin, etc. are required.
- What triggers hyperpigmentation?Skin cells produce a chemical called melanin, which gives skin its color. These skin cells may generate excessive amounts of melanin if damaged or disturbed, leading to hyperpigmentation.
- Does face pigmentation go away?
Hyperpigmentation is not usually dangerous and does not indicate a major medical problem. With adequate sun protection, dark patches may disappear on their own in certain situations.
Whereas some situations require severe treatment.
- What is the fastest way to cure pigmentation?
A laser peel (resurfacing) therapy reduces hyperpigmentation by using focused light beams. Lasers are classified as either ablative or non-ablative. The most powerful lasers are ablative lasers, which entail removing layers of the skin. However, it is recommended to go for laser treatments only if topical treatments don’t work out for you.
- Is facial pigmentation permanent?
Absolutely not! There are many cosmetic treatments such as peeling, lasers (ablavtive or non-ablative) to lighten dark areas on the skin. However, it is recommended to go for laser treatments only if topical treatments don’t work out for you.
To treat pigmentation safely in an inexpensive way, try serums with active ingredients like Vitamin C, Niacinamide, Alpha Arbutin, etc.
- What disease causes skin pigmentation?
Melasma, medications, cancers, and other systemic diseases are common causes of hyperpigmentation.