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Everything You Need to Know About Hyperpigmentation

Do you know everything you need to know about hyperpigmentation? This cause of uneven skin tone and discolouration is a problem for a lot of people. However, when you understand what’s happening, you’ll know what kind of treatment you need.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about hyperpigmentation. Keep reading to learn more!

What is Hyperpigmentation?

Acne is the top reason people seek out the help of dermatologists, but skin pigmentation is the second most common reason.

This broad term essentially just refers to any spots where an increase in melanin causes excess pigmentation in the skin. This type of pigmentation is more common in people with darker skin tones since their skin already has the ability to produce a lot of pigment.

Types of Pigmentation

Not all excess skin pigmentation is the same. Here are a few of the most common varieties you might see.

1. PIH

These are the most common types of pigmentation on the skin. PIH comes from issues like acne, rashes, eczema, and other forms of skin trauma. After the inflammation dies down, the skin responds by adding extra melanin to that spot.

These marks usually happens a few days after the skin issue first occurs. They’ll appear as small, brown spots.

2. Melasma

This is another one of the most common forms of excess pigmentation. Doctors don’t really understand why melasma happens, but it’s more common in women, so some doctors believe it could be hormonal.

Melasma often occurs during pregnancy, or when a woman starts birth control. However, men can get melasma, too – it’s just not as common. Melasma looks like brown or greyish-brown patches, that usually show up on the forehead, cheeks, or upper lip.

3. Age Spots

Over time, our skin develops age spots due to exposure to the sun. However, even if you use sun protection, you might still get age spots eventually. They’re more likely to show up on skin that gets more sun, such as the forehead, cheeks, chest, and hands. Sometimes, these spots also have a slight difference in texture.

4. Birthmarks

Birthmarks and other marks like freckles and moles are considered by some to be a type of hyperpigmentation. However, treating these tends to be completely different than treating other forms of pigmentation, so not all doctors agree on this.

Getting Treatment for Spots

Many products claim to be able to fade or lighten your pigmented spots. However, many brands attempt to make general products so people will buy them for a lot of different things. The reality is that different treatments work better for different types of pigmentation. Now, let’s look at the types of treatments that can be helpful for treating pigmented skin spots.

1. Topical Treatments

Not every pigmentation issue needs to be treated with lasers. For many issues, topical creams are enough to make a difference, and it’s best to start with this kind of non-invasive treatment.

To begin, your dermatologist might recommend a mild cream with retinoids. The next step will be products that use a combination of ingredients, such as retinoid products that also use hydroquinone. Even more potent topical treatments add mild steroids to the mix.

For added anti-pigmentation benefits, topical treatments might be combined with gentle chemical peels.

A dermatologist can usually give you your best results, but some over-the-counter treatments do contain ingredients that can help. You’ll want to look for ingredients like vitamin C and retinol.

Some dermatologists use cryotherapy to combat age spots. This freezing method actually takes away the top layer of skin. This method can work well, but it needs to be approached slowly so that the skin isn’t damaged.

2. Chemical Peels

A step up from topical treatments involves using chemical peels to remove pigmentation. This is another type of treatment that needs to be done carefully, by a professional. If done incorrectly, peels can be very harsh on the skin, but when done professionally this is a very effective form of treatment.

These peels exfoliate the top layers of dead skin away, revealing a layer of fresh, healthy skin with a more even tone. Some people opt for a full facial peel, but this method can also be used as a spot treatment on specific areas with too much pigmentation.

3. Intense Pulsed Light

Intense pulsed light, or IPL, is another form of treatment that works fast and can get good results, but requires a trained professional to administer it correctly.

You’ll also need to use sunscreen every day after treatment since both this treatment and lasers irritate your skin, which can make it vulnerable to pigmentation from the sun.

These methods actually go in and break up the pigments in the skin, and bring them to the surface. Then, when the skin naturally sheds, a new layer of skin develops that doesn’t have excess pigmentation.

IPL is gentler than lasers since it uses natural light to achieve the same effect. However, you’ll want to avoid products that increase light sensitivity before your treatment.

4. Sun Protection

It’s not exactly a form of treatment, but one of the most important things you can do to combat hyperpigmentation is to take preventative measures. Many types of pigmentation are caused or made worse by sun exposure, including melasma and age spots. Make sure you use sunscreen every day – look for products with at least an SPF of 30.

Avoid picking at your skin to add irritation. If you have problems like acne, get the help of a dermatologist so you don’t give yourself acne scars from trying to take care of it on your own.

Do You Need Hyperpigmentation Treatment?

No matter what type of excess pigmentation you have, there’s a treatment out there that will work for you. These treatments are effective and minimally invasive, so why wait to get started?

A skin consultation is the first step to getting the even-toned skin you’ve always wanted – contact us today to get started.

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Megan Nicholls

Megan graduated with honours in 2011 from Georgian College, Ontario, as a practical nurse. She has completed extensive training and certification in the fields of dermatology and aesthetic medicine. Megan specializes in BOTOX® and filler injections, medical-grade skincare, assessment and treatment of varicose and spider veins, and the application of light and energy-based technologies, to name a few. She is qualified as a Certified Management Professional, and a Certified Aesthetic Consultant and is currently undertaking a Master's Degree in Business Administration. Megan serves as our Director of Operations, where she leads our team with the vision of providing unrivalled products and services while utilizing the concepts of the "Improving Your Business Through a Culture of Health" program from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.