What Is Hyperpigmentation?
Recently we covered some of the interesting topics on skin whitening such as skin whitening history, side effects of skin whitening creams, natural tips and lot more. In all these topics, we have used the term hyperpigmentation, which is a very important skin condition to be aware of. In the medical field, there is a whole base of the study conducted on What is Hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is a skin condition where you get darker spots on your skin. It is caused by the "hyper" activity of the brown pigment under our skin called melanin. It's easily identifiable by dark patches that appear on the skin at random. Melanin is the pigment that gives skin its normal colour. It is produced by cells in our skin called melanocytes. The more melanin you have, the darker your skin tone would be. But hyperactivity of melanin causes it to be deposited unevenly in different parts and this makes the skin blotchy. Usually, hyperpigmentation is harmless and does not cause any serious damage to your health but that's not to say it won't do some serious damage to your self-confidence.
It is important to remember that hyper-pigmentation may and can be attributed to certain internal diseases and while it advisable to visit the dermatologist, please do so without reaching any definitive conclusions about what it could be. If you already have some existing health problems or some allergies, it would be best to seek professional advice.
All that said, sometimes information can be misleading and very often we tend to get paranoid after surfing the web about marks on our skin. So, always stay calm and never assume the worst in such situations.
Remember ladies, Any skin tone looks beautiful as long as its even. Keeping your skin colour the same all over your face and body can be hard. The skin on certain parts of your body inevitably gets darker due to various reasons.
Causes Of Hyperpigmentation
Hyper-pigmentation can happen to anyone due to many reasons. We know first-hand how frustrating it is when skin refuses to be co-operative. In order to find a long-term solution, it's important to understand the causes of Hyperpigmentation.
Exposure to Sunlight
As you all know that the UV rays of the sun are harmful to the skin. Production of melanin is a sort of inflammatory reaction to the suns UV rays. The more exposed you are to the sun, the more melanin your skin produces and the more it reacts to protect your skin against the sunburns and other allergic reactions.
Sometimes this tanning reaction isn't as simple as we just explained. Unless you've slathered up on the sun-tan lotion and you're lying face up on a beach mat, the chances are that tanning will not be even due to uneven exposure of your skin. This way specific parts of your body get more exposed and the UV rays are more concentrated on smaller parts. This set off the reaction for hyper-pigmentation. The melanocytes get activated and more melanin is produced in these areas alone. This does not mean that you can avoid the sun forever. It is among one of the many contributing factors for hyper-pigmentation.
Allergic Reaction - Oopsie!
Everyone is allergic to something or other. Your skin is especially sensitive to the foods you ingest. Some foods tend to cause hyperpigmentation even if you are not allergic to it. Lemon, carrots, celery, and cilantro are some of the examples.
Other allergic reactions may start as blotchy red patches but eventually become dark patches. Hyperpigmentation can also occur under the eyes as dark circles, especially when your food does not sit right in your intestines. That is, you have an irritable gut or bad digestion. Looking out for these signs are important to keep a track of food allergies you have that is affecting your skin.
Hormonal Imbalance - Not Again!
Hormonal imbalance is the main cause of a type of hyperpigmentation known as melasma. This can be attributed to skin discolouration. It uniquely occurs only in case of women and research shows that it may be caused due to female reproductive hormones - estrogen and progesterone. That's right ladies!
The production of these hormones tends to spike in our body, especially during pregnancy. Almost 90% women get affected with melasma during pregnancy. Melasma can occur in both layers of your skin - the dermis and the epidermis. When melasma effects the part of the dermis, the brown spots tend to be lighter but when it affects the epidermis, the brown spots tend to be darker and more defined.
It can also appear as dark patches and may not necessarily affect only pregnant women. So watch out for any such symptoms girls!
Skin pigmentation may be genetic. Although it is not a common occurrence, in some cases, it is better to have a doctor look into it, since it could be linked to some other internal issues in your body. It may not have an easy solution but it's always worth knowing what options you have.
Side-Effects of Certain Medications
On an average, almost 20% of all skin darkening problems arise due to side-effects of certain medications. Medicines that contain iron, anti-inflammatory non-steroidal, antipsychotic drugs etc are some examples of these medications.
Iron supplements or tablets containing iron can cause melanin to get deposited unevenly on the dermis and this can cause a significant discolouration of the skin tone. Some drugs can also react when we step into sunlight along with other elements in our skin to produce excess melanin. While in most cases, once the medication is stopped, the lesions and patches on the skin eventually fade away, there may be cases where the side-effect is permanently scarring.
Skin Infections or Injuries
Eczema, Erythrasma, and yeast infections are common problems that occur for both men and women. These infections can often result in Hyperpigmentation either during the infection itself or as an after effect.
Scabs, scars, lesions and other injuries to the skin can sometimes leave a dark patch after inflammation and healing. This is mostly due to the healing process and while it is slow, it usually fades away.
Skin Treatments Gone Wrong
Skin treatments are great. But we need to identify what our skin needs before getting one. Often the skin treatments like chemical peels, laser treatments or hair removal treatments can go terribly wrong. Because of the high-intensity radiation involved in these treatments, the skin immediately reacts and become inflamed. This inflammation causes the influx in the production of more melanin pigment resulting in hyperpigmentation in the affected areas.
Another reason is not protecting your skin after the treatment. Your skin is ultra sensitive after any treatment since it has undergone many processes. Stepping into harsh weather conditions without proper protection immediately after a treatment can really shock your skin and push into defence mode thus causing hyperpigmentation.
You may not know but the deficiency of Vitamin C can also cause hyperpigmentation. Make sure to take plenty of fruits and vegetables which are rich in Vitamin C. Alternatively, you can take supplements that can help.
Vitamin B12 is another important component that helps keep your skin healthy and glowing. Deficiency of vitamin B12 lessens the cobalt in your blood that helps produce red blood cells. Red blood cells ensure the healthy supply of blood to all parts of your body including your skin. Effectively, Vitamin B12 ensures proper production of melanin, which is the trouble-maker in this whole scenario. So keep eating right and make sure you get your supplements.
Skin Conditions Associated With Hyperpigmentation
- Dark Patches: The skin conditions usually associated with hyper-pigmentation include dark patches that can be generalized i.e. all over the body, or only on the particular parts of your face, neck, hand etc.
- Blotchy Skin: Blotchy skin is another trademark of hyper-pigmentation, with small dotted dark spots that gradually increase to patches. Tan lines caused due to the sun can be embarrassing when wearing revealing clothes.
- Freckles: Another skin condition associated with Hyperpigmentation is freckles. Freckles usually tend to occur on the fairer skin as small dark spots on the face around the nose and on the cheeks. Some people tend to get freckles on the back and chest as well, but it really depends on the level of sun exposure in such cases or could be genetic as well.
- Dark Spots: Dark spots are also caused due to Hyperpigmentation. The darkness of the spots depends on your natural skin tone and how severely your skin has been affected due to sunlight, weather, physical condition and overall health.
Hyperpigmentation at the skin level is not painful unless it is caused by an allergic reaction which may cause some itchiness and discomfort. It has different versions (just like a software) so it is important to take care of it as soon as you notice it before it spreads or worsens.
How to Prevent Hyperpigmentation
There are many preventive measures to avoid Hyperpigmentation. Here are some of the important tips to prevent Hyperpigmentation:
- Protect skin from direct sunlight for the prolonged period. Follow the protection steps like carrying an umbrella, wear full sleeves clothes or wide brim hats.
- Wear sunscreen of more than SPF30 to prevent the melanin synthesis from both UVB and UVA rays. Make sure you re-apply the sunscreen if you are out in the sun for long.
- Apply Vitamin C serum on regular basis. The Vitamin C is a great anti-oxidant to fight the continuous sun damage.
- Lightening creams that contain Kojic acid, licorice, and glycolic acid are also great for unique exfoliation on the affected areas. Lightening creams containing peptides can aldo be applied for a longer period without the possible side effects.
- Avoid popping acne, blemishes, and picking at skin or scratching your skin. This is important if there are areas of hyperpigmentation already. Gently massage a cooling moisturizing lotion and use gentle exfoliation once a week to remove the dead skin cells.
Treatments For Hyperpigmentation
Hyper-pigmentation can always be a confidence buster and we understand that. Especially when it's on visible parts of the body. But never be embarrassed or heartbroken about anything of that sort. In today's time, there's always a solution available for any problem. Similarly, the condition of Hyperpigmentation can also be cured.
If your Hyperpigmentation condition is not caused due to any serious health issue, and it's only because your skin is being a difficult neighbour, then there is definitely a solution for you.
It can be cured using some home remedies from the stuff available on your kitchen counters such as lemon, honey, and yoghurt. There are many other natural treatments to help remove other skin problems like spots, freckles etc. You can learn more about treatments for Hyperpigmentation on our next article which takes you through the multiple natural and over the counter treatments for the Hyperpigmentation.
Alternatively, there are plenty of off-the-shelf products you can buy and use for those of you who don't have enough time to try home remedies or don't like to get their hands dirty.
If your hyperpigmentation condition is too extreme, there are always chemical or natural peels and laser treatments that are safe and reliable. These methods ensure that your skin is completely exfoliated and evenly toned, with regular treatment. It only takes a couple of sittings, especially for those of you who don't have the time for scheduled skin care regime and patience to wait for months and years. Just be sure to pick the right treatment for your skin after consulting a good dermatologist. Afterall, it's about your skin; the largest organ on your body.
That's all for "Everything on Hyperpigmentation". We hope you have understood and gained a lot about this skin condition, its causes and the symptoms to determine what could be possibly causing you the Hyperpigmentation.
We will talk about this more on "How To Treat Hyperpigmentation" on our next segment. Be sure to check out some fast, easy and effective solutions to get radiant and glowing skin.
Sonia Knight is the founder of be:skinformed.Apart from having her own experience with hyperpigmentation, Sonia has gained vast knowledge in the dermatology field. For more info on this, check out our about us page.