What Causes Hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation or dark skin coloring can be caused by a number of reasons. Genetic reasons are also one of them. Inherited syndromes can cause overproduction of melanin leading to dark patches on the surface of the skin. Certain genes might carry characteristics that might contribute to overproduction of melanin.
Sun exposure is considered the primary cause of hyperpigmentation. Melanin is produced as a result of direct exposure of sunlight on the skin’s surface. Though melanin protects your skin from UV rays, excessive exposure to sunlight can cause dark spots.
This is why people get tanned when exposed to sunlight. Areas that get direct sunlight like face, arms and forehead are more prone to get this disease.
Stress can affect an individual’s mental well being. When you are under stress, there is less circulation of oxygen in the body. The body increases the production of cortisol hormone or the stress hormone. This process reduces the secretion of progesterone, a hormone responsible for skincare.
Hormonal changes can also cause the occurrence of this disease, especially in women. Melasma is a type of hyperpigmentation that can be caused by hormonal influences. This occurs when exposure to the sun stimulates female sex hormones progesterone and estrogen to produce melanin.
Air pollution has long been considered a cause of several skin diseases. When skin is exposed to air pollutants, the body produces melanin and antioxidants to fight them. Though melanin is good for the skin, pollution might lead to overproduction. This leads to the formation of dark spots on your skin.
Drug-induced skin pigmentation is responsible for about 10-20% of all cases. Several drugs might damage the dermal vessels leading to hyperpigmentation. The major drugs that are a cause of this disease include phenytoin, cytotoxic drugs, antimalarials, amiodarone, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and heavy metals.
More people are using cosmetics and skincare products for grooming. These include face-washes, sunscreen, perfumes, mascara, lipsticks, creams, etc. Their composition comprises of chemical compounds and some natural resources. Individuals who apply these products might experience allergic reactions, leading to the formation of dark spots.
Inflammatory Skin Disease
Skin inflammation occurs when the body’s immune system responds to foreign invaders to protect the body. This might result in the formation of skin irritations like rashes and redness. It may also result in excess production of pigments in the skin. This causes hyperpigmentation.
What Are The Types Of Hyperpigmentation
Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)
This occurs after a skin injury or inflammation which leaves the skin darkened or discolored. Discoloration mostly occurs after the healing of a skin injury. It can happen on any part of the body and can be seen as flat spots of discoloration. Depending upon skin color and the level of discoloration, the skin can become pink, red, brown or black.
Men and women can both develop this disease. It is mostly seen in individuals who have a darker tone of the skin. But all types of skin are susceptible to PIH. PIH does not cause scarring of the skin and is seen to gradually improve over time. Chemical peels and laser therapy are used to treat PIH.
Post Inflammatory Erythema
Post Inflammatory Erythema or PIE is a type of skin disease that occurs after inflammatory acne. The term was coined in 2013 to describe erythema that is seen after the curing of inflammatory acne or inflammatory skin conditions. Erythema is the phenomenon that results in redness of the skin due to injury, infection or inflammation.
It differs from PIH by the color of inflammation. Unlike, PIH, Post Inflammatory Erythema is characterized by red, pink and purple appearing scars. PIE can be treated with the help of pulsed dye lasers and intense pulsed light.
This is a type of hyperpigmentation that occurs when the skin is unable to regenerate tissue which leads to imbalanced scarring and indentation of skin. It is mostly caused by chickenpox, severe acne or after removal of a mole. It is more severe than PIE or PIH and has an impact on the quality of life.
There are several treatments for the removal of atrophic scarring. Some of them include fillers, chemical peels, punch excision, skin needling, and fillers. This treatment can help to reduce the indentation of the skin.
Treatments for Hyperpigmentation
Several clinical and non-clinical remedies are available for the treatment of dark spots. Some of these are –
Several faces and skin acids can be used to cure hyperpigmentation. Some types of alpha-hydroxy (AHA) acids like glycolic (sugarcane) and mandelic acid (sugarcane) can aid in dealing with this disease. These are effective remedies for the treatment of acne, sun damage and clearing pigmentation.
Salicyclic acid is also a well-known remedy that helps to cure skin diseases.
Laser treatment makes use of targeted beams of light to reduce dark spots on the skin. This is an ablative technique that involves the removal of skin layers. Laser treatment is strong and can cause side effects. It works best for individuals who have a fair skin tone.
Whitening/ Lightening Cream or Essence
These are over-the-counter solutions that can help to reduce skin pigmentation. You can apply the whitening cream or essence once or twice a day. And the effective ingredients have hydroquinone, vitamin B-3, licorice extract, and N-acetyglucosamine and so on.
They are also available in the form of a gel. Lightening cream works fine with small patches of discoloration on most skins. Creams are affordable than other treatments but take a longer time to cure pigmentation.
It is a type of skin treatment that involves minimally invasive procedures. Microdermabrasion helps to renew the texture and tone of your skin. Dermatologists use a handheld drill-like tool to wipe your skin which removes the epidermis. Multiple sessions might be needed to see the best results.
Intense Pulse Light Therapy (IPL)
A non-ablative (fractional) laser treatment, Intense pulse light therapy (IPL) is a painless remedy to cure dark spots. This therapy helps in the growth of collagen in the dermis of the skin. It can help to cure overall pigmentation issues. In addition, it also effective in preventing wrinkles, enlarged pores, and spider veins.
This method involves using an ingredient or tool to physically remove cells from the skin. They are made from natural ingredients obtained from stones, nuts, plants, and plant extracts. You need to physically scrub the affected region with the exfoliant to remove pigmentation.
Chemical exfoliants use acids at a higher concentration to treat the affected area of your skin. They remove epidermis to reduce the pigmentation of the skin. Some deeper concentrates may penetrate the dermis to give enhanced results.
If your exposure to sunlight is regular it is not advisable to use chemical exfoliants. This is because using chemical exfoliants makes your skin become more sensitive to sunlight.
Home Remedies for Hyperpigmentation
Aloesin, a compound present in Aloe Vera which hampers the production of melanin. This results in the reduction of dark spots on the skin. Gel obtained from the Aloe Vera plant can be applied directly to the skin.
According to research, acetic acid present in vinegar has been shown to reduce skin pigmentation. When washing your face, add 1 / 2 tablespoons of vinegar to the water to reduce pigmentation.
It is a very easy and a harmless process. Make sure that the solution does not enter your eyes as it might produce a burning sensation in the eyes.
It is a common home remedy for treating post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). The alpha-hydroxy acids in lemon speed up the renewal of cells in the skin to lighten PIH. Apply lemon juice on the affected area for 10-15 minutes in a day.
You can also mix yogurt or honey with lemon juice before applying it to the skin.
As we know, green tea can marginally improve hyperpigmentation. Green tea has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which are effective in dealing with skin diseases. You can either apply a green tea solution or a mixture of ground green tea and yogurt.
Skincare Routine to prevent and Remove Hyperpigmentation
Drink a glass of tomato juice or eat tomatoes every day
Tomato is widely known to improve skin color and remove tanning by negating the harmful effect of UV rays of the sun. You can also apply tomato on the skin, once a day.
Take one tablet of Vitamin C and Vitamin E every day
These vitamins have anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties which can help to cure pigmentation. It lightens the pigmentation of skin but does not lighten the skin color. You should consult a doctor before taking them.
Daily Apply Sunscreen
Applying sunscreen daily will provide a shield to your skin against UV rays of the sun. It will also put a check on melanin production. This will result in reducing the level of hyperpigmentation in your skin.
Use natural and mild skincare products
You can use natural and milk skincare products like moisturizing cream, face wash, and soaps to reduce pigmentation. These are an excellent way for grooming as well as improving the skin color. Make sure to use products that do not contain harmful chemicals and metals.