What is hyperpigmentation?

What is hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is a quite common and usually harmless skin condition which makes some patches of skin darker than the normal surrounding skin.

Hyperpigmentation is caused by an over or uneven production of melanin, the brown pigment that produces normal skin colour. Melanin is produced in your skin as natural protection against the sun. But sometimes this process can go awry, and your skin can start to produce too much melanin in certain areas. This can be due to several factors: hormones, sun damage, skin irritation or trauma, or medication.

Hyperpigmentation can be complicated to treat and finding out the cause is key to getting the right treatment. If you treat the pigmentation in the wrong way, you can make your skin worse. There are three main types of hyperpigmentation:

  1. Age spots or liver spots

These can be hereditary and may be brought on by sun exposure. They often appear in the areas of the skin that are most exposed to the sun. Usually irregular-shaped, small round patches of pigmentation, they are commonly found on the back of the hands, the arms and sometimes on the cheeks.

  1. Melasma

Melasma is often referred to as ‘the mask of pregnancy because it is caused by hormones during pregnancy or when you are taking the contraceptive pill. You usually get dark patches on your forehead, around your eyes and upper lip. These can get better once the hormone has decreased. That might mean when you have come off the contraceptive pill. I had melasma during pregnancy and it improved gradually after I gave birth and disappeared within 12 months.

  1. Post-inflammatory or hyperpigmentation

This is brought on by trauma or inflammation within the skin. Often inflammatory conditions such as eczema and asthma can cause this, but also strong skin treatments can bring it on. If you have chemical peels or laser treatments, these can cause hyperpigmentation. It can often be worse if you have darker skin.

So how can we treat hyperpigmentation?

The first thing is to establish the cause. If it’s hormone-related, you will have to remove the source of the hormone causing the problem before we can get started. If it’s sun damage, then the best thing would be an in-clinic treatment like resurfacing, combined with specialist homecare to help improve the appearance at home. Continued, daily treatment at home is essential if you want to see improvements.

The best thing you can do is prevention. Make sure you wear an SPF 50 every day. if it’s an inflammatory condition that we’re dealing with, then the inflammation needs to be reduced first before you can treat the pigmentation. If you try to treat the pigmentation you can make the inflammatory condition worse, which then will lead to more pigmentation. This can be treated effectively with correct home care.

If you need any more advice, I’d love to help you. You can book a consultation with me, and together we’ll decide on the best way to treat your hyperpigmentation. Want to try a skin treatment the vit C Summer Glow Facial is a great start for pigmentation.