Hyperpigmentation is the darkening of an area due to increased production of Melanin.
Melanin is produced by melanocytes in basal layer of epidermis. It helps protect the skin against effects of the sun such as skin cancer and premature aging.
Melanocytes transfer melanosomes through their dendrites to keratinocytes,where they form melanin caps that reduce UV induced DNA damage in epidermis. Once produced, melanin is transported to the upper levels of skin through outward growth of keratinocytes(skin cells)
- Pigment Spots– such as age spots are caused by sun exposure. For this reason, they appear mainly on body parts that are frequently exposed, such as the face, hands and arms. They tend to be small, darkened patches of skin.
- Melasma– also known as chloasma — patchy hyperpigmentation is often referred to as “the mask of pregnancy”, as it affects 90% of pregnant women. It occurs as a result of hormonal influences such as pregnancy and birth control pills, and causes dark brown or greyish pigmentation and irregularly shaped areas on the face or arms that can be quite large.
- Freckles– Also called Sun kisses or sun spots usually flat & circular.
- Post Inflammatory Pigmentation- Can appear as dark spots, lines from laser treatments. Mainly causes are trauma to skin, laser burns, aggressive peels & acne.
How to get rid of pigmentation?
- Protect from sun exposure– Sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 on all exposed areas.
- Exfoliation– Pigments appears darker when it sits closer to the surface of the skin. Gentle exfoliation and chemical peels can be helpful in lifting the pigment & allowing it to be removed.
- Increase cell turnover-can be increased with topical agents, healthy cells can be brought to the surface of the skin.Vitamin A derivatives, including Retin-A are useful in this regard.
- Inhibit Tyrosinase production– Daily care products & professional treatments can help to stop chain reaction which results in deposition of melanin.