Uneven skin pigmentation, often known as hyperpigmentation, is a prevalent skin problem that can affect all skin types. It can cause sunspots, age spots, or dark patches.
Although this is a common problem with various treatment options, not all are effective. How can you know which method to use? Before we dive into the treatment methods, let’s define first what hyperpigmentation is and what causes it.
What is Hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation refers to an excess of pigment and is a term used to describe a skin condition in which some patches of skin become darker than the surrounding areas due to excess melanin.
Melanin, a group of natural pigments found in most living beings, is responsible for skin color; the darker the skin, the higher the melanin content. Our bodies produce melanin to protect skin cells from harmful and damaging UV radiation.
Other circumstances, too, can contribute to excessive melanin production. Melanocytes are the cells that make the pigment. Melanin is divided into two categories: pheomelanin, a red and brown pigment found primarily on light-skinned people, and eumelanin, a black or dark-brown pigment produced in those with darker skin tones.
Extra pigment in certain skin parts is usually benign, but it might occasionally suggest a medical problem, so it is always advised to go for a skincare consultation to see if it needs to be assessed by a dermatologist.
What causes Hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation can’t be attributed to a single source because the causes differ from person to person. Although genetics play a part, excessive sun exposure, stress, and hormones tend to be the leading causes of this skin problem.
1. Sun exposure
Sun exposure is the leading cause of hyperpigmentation because sunlight increases melanin formation. Melanin protects your skin from the sun's harmful UV rays, but when you're out in the sun, more melanin is created to protect your skin, which can lead to the formation of dark spots.
Certain hormonal changes can lead to hyperpigmentation. Women suffer from it more than men because when their body is exposed to sunlight, the oestrogen triggers the overproduction of melanin. If you are currently taking any hormone medication, you may be affected by hyperpigmentation. If that’s the case, booking a consultation with a skincare expert is essential.
"The mask of pregnancy" is a common phenomena that affects women postpartum due to hormonal changes, but is usually short term and resolves itself.
As we age, the cells that produce melanin diminish, and those that are left, grow in size, resulting in darker areas. This is why hyperpigmentation is more common in those over 40.
If you are wondering how to treat pigmentation then you should reduce your stress levels. Stress is brought on by endocrine hormones, which can accelerate melanin production. It can lead to a lack of sleep and damage cell DNA, speeding up the creation of melanin.
What are the types of Hyperpigmentation?
Hormonal changes can cause melasma, and the symptoms worsen in the sun. It's more common in women, and it's most noticeable on the face, especially around the upper lips, forehead, and chin.
Hormonal factors play a role in this pigmentation because it is most common in pregnant women and those who use hormonal therapies and contraceptives. So, it's the most common question women ask about treating pigmentation.
2. Solar Lentigines
This hyperpigmentation includes liver spots, age spots, and freckles. The marks can be found all over the body but are most prominent on the arms, hands, and face. Spots might become irritated and scaly in appearance.
How to prevent Hyperpigmentation?
1. Always use sunscreen
Your priority should be to avoid excessive sun exposure since it is one of the leading causes of hyperpigmentation. Always make sure to apply sunscreen every day to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
2. Add antioxidants to your skincare routine
It's quite the task to get rid of dark spots, but according to studies, using a topical vitamin C serum could help reduce hyperpigmentation. Using antioxidant-rich products, such as vitamin A, E, or C, can aid in the repair of damaged skin cells.
3. Consider chemical peel
A chemical peel treats the desired area of skin and reduces the appearance of hyperpigmentation by removing the epidermis layer (upper layer) of skin, therefore revealing a fresh layer of new skin. If you want a reliable solution for how to treat pigmentation you can consider this method combined with a good skincare routine. Chemical peels may not be the ideal treatment option for you if you spend a lot of time outside in the sun.
4. My personal recommendation: Obagi Nuderm Transformation System
By eliminating hyperpigmentation and reversing the signs of ageing, the Obagi Nuderm Transformation system can help make your skin more radiant while fading dark skin patches.
While other products may contain harsh substances, the Obagi Nuderm Transformation System consists of seven products with hydroquinone (prescription kit) or arbutin (non-prescription kit) plus a vitamin A cream (retinol or tretinoin) that is prescribed separately.
The system will aid in the reduction of dark spots, wrinkles, and sun damage. Its potent ingredients aim to block the enzyme that produces the melanin but also exfoliates the skin, so increases cell turnover, leaving healthy, brighter skin. There are five phases in this procedure. The first three phases are the treatment which can go around 13 to 18 weeks depending on depth of pigmentation and skin type, and the last two phases are maintenance.
The best thing about this system? You can do it all from the comfort of your own home!
How long does hyperpigmentation take to fade?
You should keep in mind that hyperpigmentation therapy can take an extended period. Some blemishes will fade away with time, and it could take 6 to 12 months or even more. However, with the Obagi Nuderm transformation system, and with our guidance and frequent follow ups, you can have your spots treated in as little as 18 weeks.
We have covered types and causes, and also the most crucial question, how to treat pigmentation? Understandably, the effects of hyperpigmentation are difficult to reverse, but with proper treatment and skincare consultation, you can get that glowing skin back. The important thing after this, is maintaining a great skincare routine to avoid the pigment coming back, and we will be here to provide our expert advice throughout your skincare journey.
The Obagi Nuderm Transformation System, in my personal experience, is THE most effective medical skincare treatment option for hyperpigmentation. I hope that I was able to assist you in finding the best way to get that flawless skin!