Millions of people around the world are affected by hyperpigmentation, making it one of the most common skin concerns. However, plenty of people are still in the dark about the different causes of hyperpigmentation and how the issue can be effectively treated.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about what hyperpigmentation actually is, what causes it, and how you can effectively treat hyperpigmentation.
What is Hyperpigmentation?
Our skin is naturally pigmented but when your body produces too much of this pigment – called melanin – it leads to an uneven skin tone or hyperpigmentations. Because hyperpigmentation is usually caused by external factors and damage, it can most commonly be found on areas of the body that are most exposed. This includes the face, neck, and limbs. It’s also worth keeping in mind that hyperpigmentation is an umbrella term covering a number of different types of pigmentations issues including freckles, sunspots, melasma, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
What are the Causes of Hyperpigmentation?
As we have mentioned, there are a number of different ways that hyperpigmentation can occur. Although not an exhaustive list, the following are the most common causes:
- UVA and UVB Damage: Not only is sun damage one of the main causes of wrinkles, but it also triggers the surplus production of melanin, as part of the body’s defence mechanism. This overproduction of melanin results in what we recognise as sunspots, known medically as actinic lentigines.
- Injury: Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is a form of hyperpigmentation that develops in response to damage to the skin as part of the body’s healing process. PIH is commonly observed in individuals following acne, traumatic injuries to the skin, or burns, and more commonly affect those with darker skin tones.
- Pollution: Chronic inflammation from chemical pollutants and damage caused by free-radicals not only weaken collagen fibres but also affect the pigment-producing cells in the body. The irritation from air pollution causes these cells to go into overdrive, producing extra melanin which manifests as hyperpigmentation.
- Hormones: Primarily occurring amongst women, the hormones estrogen and progesterone can lead to the overproduction of melanin. Hormonal birth control and pregnancy can both trigger this form of hyperpigmentation, known as melasma. Unlike hyperpigmentation caused by external factors, melasma only affects the face, showing up on the forehead, jawline, upper lip, or cheeks.
How Can You Treat Hyperpigmentation?
Like with most skin concerns, it’s best to leave the treatment of hyperpigmentation to professionals, as attempting to lighten the affected areas yourself could cause more harm than good.
There are a number of different ways in which hyperpigmentation can be effectively treated in a clinic, both on the face and the body.
While peels alone aren’t substantial enough to tackle severe cases of hyperpigmentation, that can speed up the process when used in combination with other treatments. Although glycolic and acid peels are still the most common peels used by dermatologists, there are now plenty of natural options available for those with sensitive skin.
Collagen Induction Therapy
For cases of hyperpigmentation that occur on the face or where the melanin overproduction only affects the upper layers of the skin, the use of Collagen Induction Therapy (CIT) is recommended. The process uses microneedles to break down the pigment and is often recommended for treating PIH as it works on both hyperpigmentation and any scar tissue present.
IPL and laser resurfacing have both long been favoured by professionals for their effective treatment of hyperpigmentation, working well even on sensitive areas like the face. To make sure that you get the best results, find a practitioner using the Nd: YAG laser as this has been specially designed for pigmentation issues – although other types of laser can be used too for the treatment too.