Hyperpigmentation has become the number one skin concern in Australia. A recent study carried out Denmark concluded that most people believe an uneven skin tone is the most aging of all skin issues, above skin sagging and even wrinkles.
Unfortunately, hyperpigmentation is one of those conditions that can materialise out of nowhere, whether it is sun damage, melasma or dark spots left over from acne scars. Understanding this skin condition, its triggers and aggravators, is ultimately the key to preventing pigmentation and choosing an effective course of treatment.
WHAT IS HYPERPIGMENTATION?
Pigmentation occurs when melanin – the pigment that gives skin, hair and eyes their natural colour – is overproduced in certain cells. This causes localised dark spots or patches on the skin. These discoloured areas can be light brown to black in colour and will vary in terms of size and shape. Darkness above the lip, age spots on the hands and post-acne marks are all examples of hyperpigmentation.
While it can affect anyone at any given time in their lives, it is most commonly seen in medium to dark skin tones. This is because melanin is much more present in darker skin, and therefore much more susceptible to irregularity.
There are many different forms of hyper-pigmentation, but for the most part they can be divided into three categories:
When oestrogen and progesterone are elevated above a normal level, it can lead to a condition known as melasma, which causes large areas of skin to become darker, or hyper-pigmented. It is common for women notice dark patches of skin developing during their pregnancy or after starting hormonal contraception. The good news for melasma sufferers is that the condition can often resolve itself once oestrogen and progesterone levels are balanced – after birth or after coming off hormonal contraceptives for instance. The bad news? It can take anywhere from a couple of months to a few years to fade entirely.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is what occurs after a pimple has finished healing. It is essentially the skin’s natural response to an injury that causes the skin to become inflamed. As the inflammation subsides and the lesion begins to heal, the skin can often produce too much melanin causing the skin to darken. PIH can also occur after some more invasive dermal treatments, as your body's response to healing.
PIH will improve over time, even if it’s left untreated, but this can take anywhere from three months to three years depending on the severity of the pigmentation.
This typically refers to age spots, this kind of hyperpigmentation is caused by sun damage. Despite the name, age has nothing to do with the condition. Anyone can be affected at any point in their lives. Interestingly, age spots do not necessarily appear at the same time that the skin is afflicted. Oftentimes you will find that sun damage accumulated in the 20s can start to surface in the 30s or 40s, which is why it’s imperative to use sunscreen every day from an early age.
All hyperpigmentation is worsened by sun exposure, so suncare is an absolute essential. Wearing a daily broad spectrum SPF50 sunscreen is the best way to keep pigmentation at bay. Protective clothing such as sun hats and sunglasses should also be worn to enhance protection, and you should aim to seek out shade wherever possible. For those who are prone to blemishes, it’s important not to pick at the skin.
OUR TREATMENTS FOR HYPERPIGMENTATION
IPL Treatment, Chemical Peels and Healite Therapy
There are so many treatments available for hyper-pigmentation. In our clinic we prefer to use IPL Rejuvenation in conjunction with Healite Light Therapy or Chemical Peels. Treatments are fortnightly and you can expect to have treatment for 3-6 months.
We also reccomend a consultation with our Naturopath to look at any hormonal or health triggers that could be aggravating the hyper-pigmentation.
Vitamin C, Vitamin A and Vitamin B5 are all key ingredients when managing Hyper-pigmentation. These core nutrients aim to brighten the skin, normalise production of melanin and promote desquamation and cellular repair.
In addition clients may benefit from a pigmentation serum such as Medik8 White Balance Serum - a brightening serum containing patented Oxy-R, an alternative to Kojic Acid and Hydroquinone.