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What can I do about my hyperpigmentation?

What can I do about my hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation can affect people of any skin color, and any race.
Very common and traditionally harmless, hyperpigmentation is an increase in color caused by either an increase in melanin, an increase in melanocytes, or the deposit of another substance that adds color by forming deposits in skin. This darkening of skin can be brought on by sun exposure, skin inflammation, medications, hormones, trauma, pollution and stress. It can even be the remnants of scarring related to acne or a surgical procedure.

While some versions of hyperpigmentation are not treatable, as they reside in the dermis (the dermis layer resides under the epidermis, and it contains nerve endings, collagen, elastin, blood vessels, oil glands and sweat glands), epidermal hyperpigmentation (the layer of skin we can see) is treatable, but with any skin condition, must be thoroughly examined before a proper regimen can be prescribed.

The sources of hyperpigmentation

These sources of hyperpigmentation are among the most common, and fortunately, the most treatable when under the care of a professional.

Source 1: sun damage
While pigmentation has many sources, ultraviolet light from the sun is the most common cause of pigmentation disorders. However, pigmentation caused by sun damage is most easily prevented and is the most easily treated.

The normal response to daylight exposure (UV radiation from the sun) or tanning beds is an increase in melanin production, which causes uniform tanning in most persons but leads to freckling in some.

Sun damage can also contribute to Solar Lentigo and sun spots (age spots), which are also known as letigines. They form mostly on areas of the skin that are left unprotected from the sun, such as the hands and arms.

On the opposite spectrum of hyperpigmentation is hypopigmentation, which is the reduction or loss of pigment. Vitiligo is an immune disorder in which pigment-producing cells are damaged, which causes smooth, white patches on the skin that can appear anywhere on the body. To date, there is no cure for vitiligo.

Source 2: medication
Medications are a frequent cause of sudden skin pigmentation. Most of the pigmentation is seen in sun-exposed areas, suggesting an interaction between ultraviolet light and ingested medication. Some known medications that can cause skin pigmentation include oral contraceptives, anti-seizure medications, anti-cancer medications, hypo-glycemic medications, non-steroidal medications, certain antibiotics, Accutane and Tetracycline.

Skin pigmentation caused by medication can be prevented by wearing sunscreen daily and applying it properly. See the section in this brochure titled Sun Protection as Your First Line of Defense for more information.

Source 3: photosensitivity
Certain ingredients found in cosmetics and fragrances will create a photosensitive reaction, which is an abnormally heightened response to daylight or ultraviolet radiation. Some ingredients that can trigger this reaction are Oil of Bergamont which is found in fragrances, and Methylene Blue, Orange red, Erythrocine, Fluorescein and Methyl violet, which are found in cosmetics and dyes. Avoid any products that contain artificial fragrances or colors if you are currently experiencing hyperpigmentation.

Source 4: hormones
Chloasma, also known as melasma or “the mask of pregnancy,” occurs when the sun-exposed skin on the upper cheeks, forehead, and/or upper lip turns a tan, brownish color because excess pigment is deposited in the skin’s upper layers. It can also show up when women take oral contraceptives. Men can also experience melasma, but it is rare. Scientists have found that men with melasma show low production of testosterone coupled with a higher level of LH (luteinizing hormone). when the sun-exposed skin on the upper cheeks, forehead, and/or upper lip turns a tan, brownish color because excess pigment is deposited in the skin’s upper layers. It can also show up when women take oral contraceptives; it can also be experienced by men.

Sun protection as your first line of defense

Whether you trace your hyperpigmentation back to the sun or hormones, sun can increase its appearance on skin. The daily use of sunscreen is your greatest weapon against further hyperpigmentation. And with new sunscreen technology that won’t clog pores, won’t cause excess irritation (redness and burning) and won’t feel chalky or greasy, it’s much easier to comfortably make sunscreens a part of your daily skin care regimen.

While many of us are responsible enough to apply sunscreen at the beach or when we’re spending a long time outdoors, there is still not enough understanding that cumulative exposure to sun can also cause extensive damage. Fifteen minute walks outside and occasional lunches outdoors can add up to an increase in hyperpigmentation, weakened collagen and elastin in skin, and of course, skin cancer. And even if you don’t see pinkened or reddened skin after being in the sun, that doesn’t mean that the damage hasn’t been done.

When selecting your sun protection, look for Sun Protection Factors (SPFs) combined with stabilized vitamins. Research has found that antioxidant vitamins are as important as sunscreens when defending skin from the aging and burning effects of damaging ultraviolet (UV) light and free radicals. When powerful, properly stabilized vitamin complexes are formulated with sunscreens, protection against UV exposure is enhanced. This also allows for higher protection without the addition of potentially-irritating sunscreen ingredients found in products with higher SPFs.

By making sunscreen as much a part of your skin care regimen as cleansing and moisturizing (apply at least a walnut-sized amount of SPF15 to skin and neck) you can help prevent pigment in your skin from acting up, and help impede any other skin damage UV light can cause.

Proper treatment for results

A professional skin treatment is the best way to begin treating hyperpigmentation. During a professional skin treatment, your skin therapist can not only help assess what may be triggering your hyperpigmentation, but can help you manage it and prevent future instances.

An effective treatment regimen will begin as a series of treatments, taking place once a week for a six week period. Your treatments will rely heavily on exfoliation, and your skin condition will determine the level of exfoliation that will work best while triggering the least amount of inflammation.
Exfoliation helps remove pigmented cells while improving penetration of ingredients that help inhibit Tyrosinase (the copper-containing enzyme present in our tissues that determines just how much pigment is produced). The use of electric brushes will greatly enhance the penetration of the exfoliation ingredients.

Galvanic current can also be used to increase product penetration. This professional tool creates gentle electrical currents that work to push with Tyrosinase-inhibiting ingredients deep into the layers of the epidermis.

In addition to ingredients that treat hyperpigmentation, your skin treatments should also consist of a thorough cleansing, the use of non-inflammatory products (as exfoliation causes skin irritation and inflammation, and can trigger post-inflammation hyperpigmentation), and should always finish with solar defense.

It is also imperative to recognize that the success of your skin treatments will be heavily influenced by your professionally prescribed at-home regimen and the wearing of sunscreen for anytime skin is exposed to daylight .

get mapped. get results.
Speak with your skin therapist about Face MappingSM, the skin analysis that breaks your skin down into 14 individual zones so that your condition can be effectively treated. Regardless of your needs, your skin therapist can accurately prescribe a regimen with Face Mapping that will effectively treat all areas of your skin.


Have a skin condition question?

Please select from our FAQs below.


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