Do you have dark spots on your nose or cheeks that you want to get rid of? Hyper pigmentation can cause the appearance of discoloured patches on skin.
There are various ways to fade any discolouration on your face and it’s simply a matter of choosing which hyperpigmentation treatment best suits your skin, budget, and preference.
What Is Hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation refers to the harmless condition in which a region of your skin becomes darker than your natural skin colour. This happens when there’s an overdrive of melanin (the natural pigment responsible for the dark colours of hair, skin, and eyes) in the skin.
Hyperpigmentation can happen to anyone regardless of their skin tone. The common causes of melanin overproduction which leads to hyperpigmentation include:
- Sun ExposureThe production of melanin is the body’s natural response against harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, shielding your skin from damage. Being frequently exposed to the sun for an extended period of time can cause a spike in melanin production, which often results in a tan and for others unsightly brown spots and hyperpigmentation. Frequent and prolonged sun exposure increases the probability of dark spots, along with accelerated signs of aging and even skin cancer.
If you often engage in outdoor activities or if your work requires you to be outside for the entire day, have yourself checked out by a dermatologist at least once a year. This allows them to evaluate your risk and detect possible signs of skin cancer early on.
- Skin TraumaEczema, acne, wounds, scratches, and excessive rubbing can cause skin trauma, leading to inflammation. When inflammation in the skin occurs, this can trigger the overproduction of melanin and the development of dark spots, or post-inflammatory (PIH) hyperpigmentation, on skin.
- MelasmaThis condition causes the appearance of light to dark brown patches on the skin. This condition is rare in men but common in pregnant women — for which it earns the name “mask of pregnancy”.
Factors associated with the development of melasma include genetics, too much exposure to the sun, and hormonal balance (in the case of women taking oral contraceptives).
- Medical ConditionsIn some cases, hyperpigmentation can be triggered by an underlying medical condition. A disorder in the adrenal gland called Addison’s disease (also known as adrenal insufficiency) can ramp up melanin production. Some drugs including antibiotic and chemotherapy drugs are also believed to trigger hyperpigmentation.
Expert Treatments for Hyper pigmentation
Knowing how to treat hyperpigmentation will allow you to restore the lustre of your skin, Here are science-backed tips to help you achieve your goal:
1. Nourish Skin for Faster Cell Turnover
It’s not enough to use over-the-counter beauty products that lighten dark spots. Make sure the products you choose have ingredients that also support the skin’s barrier. Look for moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid that can facilitate the restoration of the skin’s fat barrier, building the skin’s protection against sun damage. According to Chantal Ward, RN of Clarity Medspa in Toronto, retinal (vs. retinol) is an effective and highly tolerated ingredient to watch for as it helps boost cell turnover resulting in a more even skin tone and smoother texture.
2. Consider Dermatologist-Prescribed Skin Lighteners
Over-the-counter products obtained from your local drug or health food store might not address discolouration issues as effectively as one might expect. In cases where pigment is deep or has been around for years, seek the advice of a certified skin expert. They will advise you on the best treatments for hyperpigmentation.
Topical bleaching/lightening acids remain the gold standard of therapy of hyper pigmentation as they are evidence-based, and offer solutions with less risk, especially for those with deeper skin tones! It should be noted that in the cases whereby the skin has been unresponsive to topical therapy or chemical peels, lasers present new options. With lasers, it is important than the skin be pretreated for 3-4 weeks with products that block over stimulation of the melanocytes.
3. Picking & squeezing acne pimples can create discoloured blemishes
In your eagerness to get rid of them, you may feel the urge to squeeze or pick at pimples and blackheads. Try to resist it as much as possible as one risks aggravating the inflammation and increasing the probability of discolouration. Picking acne can deepen the scar and will only worsen its appearance later on and if the temptation is too much, seek the advise of an acne facial specialist.
For sun spots and age spots, look for medical grade skin care that contains a blend of anti-oxidants (vitamin C, Phytic Acid, Azelaic, and kojic acid. These ingredients lower hyperpigmentation by preventing melanin overproduction. Other ingredients that can reverse/reduce dark spots are soy, Mandelic acid, vitamin E, arbutin, and niacinamide.
Make sure to read the package instructions thoroughly before applying brightening products on your face. Be careful to avoid sensitive areas around the nose and avoid the eye area. It is important to be patient with brown spots and acne blemishes as safe and visible results can take several weeks.
4. Protect Your Skin
Prevent skin discolouration caused by UV rays by applying sunscreen before you get out of the house. Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 (or higher) even during cool or overcast days. Lather sunscreen on exposed areas like your face, shoulder, neck, and arms.
However, SPF can only protect from UVB rays. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends choosing a sun screen that offers the added layer of protection against both harmful UVA rays as well.
Avoid products that cause a stinging or burning sensation to the skin. Such products may exacerbate hyperpigmentation (particularly melasma).
5. Consult With a Dermatologist or Aesthetician for Advanced Treatments
When over-the-counter solutions aren’t doing the trick, consult with a trusted medical aesthetic professional for science-based treatments for discolouration.
Among the most common skin treatments are carefully selected skin care that targets pigmentation, in office chemical peels, and select wavelengths of laser.
Here’s a brief look at what each treatment can do:
- – This is the least assertive of options that helps shed the outermost skin layer and superficially improves the appearance of mild spots, acne scars, and hyperpigmentation.
Fraxel – Fraxel is a common & intensive treatment option for pigmentation. While it still presents a number of risk factors for melasma and pigmentation it can be helpful for those who want a more dramatic result – associated downtime must be considered to allow for the skin’s recovery. Areas such as face, chest or arms are well suited for Fraxel as long as it as been determined that the discolouration is NOT Melasma. (Associated heat from Fraxel can worsen Melasma)
Chemical Peels -Recent breakthroughs in chemical peel science now allows patients to safely suppress melanin production all while fading & removing brown spots, acne scars and hyperpigmentation. Important to note is that that not all peels are created equally and that due diligence is key to a favourable experience. Opt for peel formulations that specialize in treating melasma and products that not only stimulate cellular turnover but also prevent melanin production at source.
The journey to a healthier, youthful-looking skin begins with a single step, which is identifying the solution that’s appropriate for your condition. The earlier you address dark spots and hyperpigmentation, the sooner you’ll have a more even complexion.
If you prefer a scientific, targeted, and more aggressive approach to healing skin irregularities, Clarity Medspa & Laser can help you. We offer tailored skin solutions using the latest technological advancements in dermatology. Contact us and let us know how we can help you.
We offer a FREE consultation in our comfortable, professional clinic. For inquiries, call us today at (416) 960-2222.