International Skin Pigmentation Day
Seeing as we are globally recognizing skin pigmentation, I thought I would take the opportunity to talk about hyperpigmentation. So what is it? It’s a skin condition where extra melanin (the pigment that gives skin its color) can cause unsightly and embarrassing marks or patches. But there’s another problem, hyperpigmentation is not actually that straight forward either, as there are several different kinds. Such as melasma which is believed to be caused by hormonal changes or imbalances. Pregnancy is often a time melasma occurs and affects the face mostly, though it can occur on the body too.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is another type of anomaly which happens after the skin is injured or inflamed, it can happen after acne or invasive facial procedures. Finally there is sun damage, sun spots, freckles, age spots which happen after excessive sun exposure and can appear anywhere on the face or body. Sometimes medications (certain antibiotics or chemotherapy drugs) can affect the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight. Using certain facial procedures (IPL) on darker skin can also create hyperpigmentation.
If you suffer from hyperpigmentation, don’t despair, there are solutions that are safe and efficient. So how do I treat hyperpigmentation in the clinic? There are topical treatments such as retinoids that can clear away the darker skin cells through exfoliation, AHA (alpha hydroxy acids) can also do this. Preventative topicals include using a physical block sunscreen preferably containing zinc oxide as the main active ingredient of an SPF 30 to 50, daily.
When it comes to an in-office treatment then there are so many to choose from depending on the cause of your hyperpigmentation and how intensively you want to tackle the problem. I would suggest gentle IPL facials over a 3-6 month period, or a chemical peels such as the VI Peel Precision Plus which is a powerful tool for are sloughing away dark skin cells. Or there is the CO2 Laser which is a hefty treatment that can erase hyperpigmentation as well as being anti-aging to boot.
Colorado is very high on the sun index so it’s not always possible to avoid the sun, but I would suggest the following to be safe:
- using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30
- wearing hats or clothing that block sunlight
- avoiding the sun during the time of the day when it’s strongest, which is typically 10 a.m. to 4 p.m