As we grow up, graduate, college, have children, advance in our careers, achieve life milestones, and begin to age, the appearance of our skin also begins to change. The youthful, nearly perfect complexion we once had shows signs of having lived life. Some of those signs are good, and some not so much. It is possible when you look in the mirror you have started to notice some spots or patches of darker skin. The skin around it may be the same color you have always seen, but these patches will seem different. This is called hyperpigmentation, and it can be an unpleasant condition for many women (and even men). So, what causes hyperpigmentation, and how can it be treated?

What is hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation occurs when the skin in one area of the body produces more melanin than another area. Melanin is the pigment the body produces, which gives your skin its color. This excess melanin can make individual patches of skin on the body appear darker than the areas surrounding them. Hyperpigmentation is a very common skin condition and can affect people of all skin types.

There are different types of hyperpigmentation. Some forms of hyperpigmentation are more likely to affect areas of the body that are commonly exposed to the sun, including the face, arms, and legs. These types of hyperpigmentation include melasma and sunspots. Other types of hyperpigmentation form after an injury or skin inflammation, such as a burn, a cut, acne, or lupus. These hyperpigmentations can occur on any area of the body.

What causes hyperpigmentation?

As previously noted, there are several different types of hyperpigmentation. The cause of hyperpigmentation will often relate directly to the type. The most common causes are:

Sun Exposure
The body produces excess melanin to protect the skin from prolonged sun exposure. This can cause dark spots on the skin, commonly known as age spots or sunspots.

Skin Inflammation
After experiencing some type of inflammation, certain areas of the skin can darken. Inflammation can include acne, eczema, lupus, or an injury to the skin. This type of hyperpigmentation is more common in people with naturally darker skin.

This type of hyperpigmentation is related to hormonal change and is most common during pregnancy but can also occur with the use of birth control pills.

Hyperpigmentation can also occur as a result of reactions to specific medications such as certain antidepressants and antimalarial drugs. Certain medical conditions can result in hyperpigmentation. The most serious of these are Addison’s disease (a disease of the adrenal gland) and hemochromatosis (an inherited condition that causes the body to contain too much iron).

How to get rid of hyperpigmentation

It is important to note that hyperpigmentation is harmless; however, some people wish to get rid of it. There is a wide range of possible treatment methods and home remedies that people can try. To prevent hyperpigmentation or to stop it from becoming more prominent, you should first do the following:

Avoid prolonged sun exposure
when you are out in the sun, use a sunscreen with an SPF of thirty or higher to protect the skin, and to prevent the darkening of existing hyperpigmentation.

Avoid picking at your skin
One of the causes of hyperpigmentation is injury to the skin. To avoid hyperpigmentation from occurring due to self-inflicted skin injury, avoid digging or picking at acne, scabs, or spots on the skin.

Topical Creams

Many people use or are prescribed topical creams to treat hyperpigmentation. Topical treatments include ingredients that are designed to lighten the skin and, thus, cause the dark spots to fade. These ingredients include azelaic acid, corticosteroids, retinoids, and vitamin C, among others. Some people may find their skin to be very sensitive to these ingredients, so it is necessary to watch for inflammation or excessive redness. It may also be beneficial to use a cream prescribed by a skincare professional if you are unsure how your skin may react to treatment.

Home Remedies

It may be possible to lighten areas of hyperpigmentation using natural remedies. However, there are no large-scale studies in humans that confirm if any of these remedies are indeed effective.

Aloe Vera
Aloe contains a compound called Aloesin, which may lighten hyperpigmentation. Aloesin works by inhibiting the production of melanin in the skin.

Licorice extracts may also lighten hyperpigmentation. There is limited research to suggest the extract Glabridin can have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and skin whitening effects.

Green Tea
There is minimal research suggesting green tea extracts can improve melasma and reduce sunburn.

Cosmetic Procedures

There are also cosmetic procedures that can be used to lighten areas of the skin and reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation. Cosmetic procedures designed to target areas of hyperpigmentation can include laser therapy, intense pulsed light therapy, chemical peels, and microdermabrasion.

Skinceuticals Pigment Balancing masque

A Solara Skin and Laser Center, we offer a variety of cosmetic procedures that can help with issues of hyperpigmentation, including the Skinceuticals Pigment Balancing Masque, which is designed to balance pigment irregularities. The Skinceuticals Pigment Balancing masque contains a pigment balancing solution, which includes glycolic acid and a vitamin C masque. This solution is mixed up to create a peel (masque) that is specifically designed to brighten and even out pigmented skin. The Skinceuticals Pigment Balancing masque is affected for skin, which has a mottled or blotchy appearance or with skin that has an uneven skin tone.

At Solara Skin and Laser Center, we offer several different peels for various conditions of the skin; however, this peel is more potent than a standard superficial peel. To provide the most benefit to hyperpigmented skin, it contains a combination of skin brightening, anti-inflammatory, and peeling elements to stimulate new skin cell growth and reveal the healthy skin below.

The Skinceuticals Pigment Balancing masque generally provides the following benefits for most people.

  •       Fades dark spots or hyperpigmentation
  •       Improves overall skin tone
  •       Enhances skin radiance and brightness
  •       Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  •       Improves skin laxity (reduces sagging and loose skin)

The Skinceuticals Pigment Balancing masque can be used on all skin types and colors. It is suggested that clients return to their skincare practitioner every two weeks during the corrective stage of their program. The corrective stage is the part of the process where treatment is ongoing, and the process of fading dark spots is incomplete. Generally, a total of four to six treatments are required to obtain the desired effect of the masque. People who have sensitive skin should return every three to four weeks, and those with darker skin should return every four weeks. This means the process will indeed take longer for those who have darker or sensitive skin. It is not recommended to complete more than two series of Skinceuticals Pigment Balancing masque treatments during the course of one year. It is also suggested to take at least three months between each series to give the skin time to regenerate and heal.

If you have noticed dark spots on your face or other areas of your body and you are considering trying fade or get rid of them, contact us at Solara Skin and Laser Center. It is important to discuss your individual skincare needs with a skincare professional before beginning treatment to assure the chosen procedure is the right one for your skin. At Solara Skin and Laser Center, we offer several different skincare options, including the Skinceuticals Pigment Balancing masque, which may help to achieve your desired results. We look forward to working with you.