Before We Get Into This, What Is Hyperpigmentation?
Melanin is a pigment in our skin which determines our skin tone. In the case of hyperpigmentation, this accumulation of melanin is not even, and some areas have more melanin than others, which results in a darker appearance or dark patches on certain areas of the skin. Occurrence of hyperpigmentation is in no way dictated by the tone of your skin – we are all equally prone to hyperpigmentation.
While accumulation of melanin seems to be the most common cause of hyperpigmentation, there are multiple other causes too – but don’t worry, there are multiple ways to cure this as well.
What Are The Different Types of Hyperpigmentation?
There are multiple types of hyperpigmentation that one can be a victim of. Some types are:
Age spots/liver spots
Age spots, also called sun or liver spots, occur on parts of the body which are the most exposed to the sun. When your skin is exposed to the sun, the UV rays hit our pigment cells/melanin cells, which make them more active and increase the melanin production. Over the years, the parts of the skin with the most sun exposure tend to get darker due to excessive melanin production in those parts. Hence the need to apply sunscreen when you go out in the sun.
This type of pigmentation is majorly caused by a combination of the sun and hormonal changes, and is known to affect pregnant women the most, because they are constantly undergoing hormonal changes. In this skin condition, women tend to develop dark brown or blue-gray patches on their face and sometimes even forearms, which gives its other name, “mask of pregnancy.” According to studies, about 15-50% of pregnant women get melasma during their pregnancy.
What Causes Hyperpigmentation?
- Staying in the sun for too long without any sort of protection, be it sunscreen or wearing items of clothing that keep you covered, can cause hyperpigmentation or sun spots. Sun damage is a slow process, so you might not be able to see the implications of it right now, but you will as you get older.
- Acne and rashes can also cause dark spots on your face and arms. When a rash or a pimple heals, it leaves some sort of scarring behind, and the main culprit behind this scarring is excessive melanin.
- Addison’s disease is a hormonal dysfunction which can cause many complications. People with this disease also often have excessive dark spots on parts of their skin that are directly exposed to the sun.
- Cushing’s disease is a disease where your body produces too much cortisol, resulting in weight gain, acne, and many other symptoms. As a ripple effect of the acne, hyperpigmentation is also one of the things that people often have to face.
- Melasma is also a common cause of hyperpigmentation, especially in pregnant women, due to evolving hormonal changes.
How Can Hyperpigmentation Be Diagnosed?
If you are noticing dark patches appearing on your skin randomly, then it is best to get them checked out by a professional. Your skin will be thoroughly examined to see if there are any major concerns and any needed medication or treatments will be recommended.
Treating Hyperpigmentation with Chemical Peels - Do they Work?
YES! One of the newest and most highly recommended solutions for hyperpigmentation is a chemical peel. These are especially recommended if your hyperpigmentation is severe and extremely dark. Chemical peels contain high concentrations of acids, which when applied on the skin, work on removing the epidermal layer of the skin, making the pigmentation spots lighter. Since this process is a little more invasive than your regular over-the-counter medication and lotions, chemical peels have been known to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation considerably in just one session.