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Manage Hyperpigmentation with These Top Tips
There’s a difference between cute freckles and dark spots that will stick around for a long time. When we hit our late twenties and thirties, the fear of aging starts to come upon us, and those brown spots and skin discoloration no longer seem so cute anymore.
Even the best skincare for freckles won’t do any good to the unwanted pigmentation that you got. Hyperpigmentation, pigmentation, dark spots, age spots… are all terms we are familiar with as signs of aging. But what is pigmentation exactly? How does it form and what are the ways, if any, to reduce and get rid of it?
Here, we will talk about what pigmentation is, the types of pigmentation there are, and some of the ways you can treat hyperpigmentation and achieve an even skin tone!
What exactly is pigmentation?
All forms of pigmentation are caused by a pigment called melanin. Melanin is the pigment that gives our skin color, and it can be found in pigment-producing cells called melanocytes. Melanin is important as it meant to help protect our skin.
When there is an overproduction of melanin, this causes hyperpigmentation, which results in the skin taking on a darker tone. Overproduction of melanin results in deposits of the excess melanin in the skin, which can clump up to form dark patches. The size of these patches can range from small to large, and in different shapes as well.
What are the common forms of hyperpigmentation?
Type: Melasma (chloasma)
Caused by: Hormonal changes
This type of pigmentation is more often found on the face and appears in patches of greyish or brown skin. Melasma occurs mostly in women, with over 90% of affected people being females. Melasma is also usually caused by changes in hormone levels and activity in the body during pregnancy or after going on hormonal contraceptives.
The more common areas of the face that will be affected are the forehead, bridge of the nose, and cheeks. It can affect women and girls of all ages, and women who develop it in their 20s and 30s might see a persistence for decades. Although it doesn’t pose health risks, melasma can be distressing for those who have it since it “tarnishes” the skin.
Type: Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH)
Caused by: Injury, inflammation, acne
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation occurs after there has been damage done to the skin, such as an injury, severe acne (that’s why we’re obsessed with how to get rid of a pimple), or overaggressive chemical treatments. The affected skin will turn brown, red, or purple after a period of inflammatory reactions. It is a largely temporary form of pigmentation, and it occurs when the dermis or epidermis layers of the skin are damaged.
Melanin deposits in the skin cells increase as inflammation of the epidermis triggers the melanocytes to increase the synthesizing of melanin, transferring the melanin to surrounding skin cells. More severe types of injuries can lead to permanent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Type: Liver spots (solar lentiginosis)
Caused by: Sun damage and aging
Solar lentiginosis occurs as flat, dark spots on areas that are more exposed to the sun such as the hands, arms, face, and shoulders. This is the pigmentation type that we most commonly associate with aging and UV exposure. It is a result of sun damage and is also a sign that your skin is aging from too much sun exposure.
Best Ways to Manage Hyperpigmentation
The best method is obviously prevention, but should you already see some signs of hyperpigmentation there are certainly ways you can keep it from accelerating and to reduce it!
Boost your skin’s moisture levels
This might not sound like an obvious way to target pigmentation, but remember that keeping your skin healthy and strong will definitely play a part in reducing the impact of pigmentation. Your skincare should also ensure that there is sufficient moisture and hydration in the skin cells. Having moisturizers with potent ingredients like glycolic acid and hyaluronic acid can inject much-needed hydration into the skin.
Dry, translucent skin is more likely to show pigmentation and discoloration than supple and elastic skin. Furthermore, moisturizer is crucial to maintaining the skin’s lipid barrier which acts as a defense against the harmful sun rays. That said, look for the best korean moisturizer for dry skin, or whatever your skin type is, to make sure your skin stays moist.
Don’t pick at your facial scars, bites, or acne scars
You might be super tempted to pick at a ripe blackhead or maybe you have an insect bite that is super itchy. Don’t touch it! When you touch and pick at spots this only exacerbates the inflammation, which will lead to even more discoloration of the skin. If you’ve been chided by your mother for picking at your pimples, that is the reason. The more the skin is aggravated, the more melanin will be produced in the healing process. So don’t touch your skin!
If you need to do something about it, apply a topical spot treatment that can help to inhibit the production of melanin. Look out for products with ingredients such as hydroquinone, niacinamide, soy, and kojic acid. You may not see an immediate difference, but it is better to be patient and keep your hands off that try to pick and cause more scarring.
Try getting medically reviewed prescription-grade products and topical treatments from your dermatologist
If your products don’t seem to be working, or you want faster results, consult a dermatologist to get stronger prescription products. After all, a dermatologist treatment for dark spots on face is your go-to for such conditions. Dermatologists are able to prescribe stronger products as they are certified medically, most products on the market have low levels of potent ingredients because they are very strong. Dermatologists will typically prescribe stronger hydroquinone with 4% strength instead of the regular 2%.
It is one of the most effective ingredients for eliminating pigmentation as it inhibits the production of an enzyme required in the production of melanin. However, it has pretty strong side effects such as causing increase sun sensitivity and it also has the potential to bleach the skin. You’ll want a dermatologist to monitor your usage because using more than your skin can handle will be a whole new set of problems.
Stay out of the sun
The best, cheapest, and easiest advice a dermatologist will give you is to stay out of the sun. It’s that simple. If you stay out of the sun, you will be exposing yourself less to the harmful radicals that cause the overproduction of melanin in the first place. Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day and stay out of the sun between 12 and 2 pm which is when the sun is hottest. Make sure to add skin hydrating foods to your diet as well for a more holistic approach. If you want to see how to make skin look younger, remember these tips.
These are the best ways to manage your hyperpigmentation. There are other methods like peels and lasers, but those are a lot more expensive and should only be a last resort. Protect your skin and you won’t need to worry about having patchy brown spots!
Alternatively, you can also try out treatments like chemical peels that help to get rid of dead skin cells and help you achieve your natural skin tone.
Exfoliating your skin with chemical exfoliants like alpha hydroxy acids are also effective in treating uneven skin tone and darkened skin patches.
Check our site again for more skincare topics, like how to manage a thinning upper lip and more!
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