Pigmentation is the colouring of your skin and your skin gets its colour from a pigment known as melanin. However, uneven skin pigmentation – often referred to as hyperpigmentation – is a type of skin disorder that, while not usually harmful or painful, affects many people and may lead to feelings of low self-esteem if it goes untreated. We look at what causes hyperpigmentation and how it can be treated.
What is hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is a common skin condition where certain patches of skin look darker than others – causing areas of uneven pigmentation rather than a smooth and even complexion. It occurs when the skin produces more melanin than usual. Those with deeper skin tones tend to be more affected by hyperpigmentation because the pigmentation marks are usually stronger.
What are the different types of hyperpigmentation?
Common types of hyperpigmentation include age spots, melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
- Age spots are small, flat dark areas on the skin that usually appear on sun-exposed areas.
- Melasma is a skin condition that causes patches and spots that are darker than your natural skin tone. It may be triggered by pregnancy, hormonal drugs and exposure to UV.
- Postinflammatory pigmentation is a temporary pigmentation disorder that occurs after an injury.
What causes hyperpigmentation?
Sun exposure is the primary cause of hyperpigmentation, so ongoing sun protection is incredibly important when it comes to preventing any further damage. Some types of hyperpigmentation, such as melasma, may also be caused by hormones, while others can occur following skin injury and inflammation.
How to treat hyperpigmentation
There are a number of effective treatment options available for hyperpigmentation, from chemical peels and laser therapy to skin brightening creams and exfoliants.
1) Chemical peels
Chemical skin peels are one of the best treatment options for hyperpigmentation because they exfoliate and brighten the skin, revealing a brighter and more even complexion by stimulating cell renewal. Mediderma skin peels are particularly effective in treating uneven skin tone and pigmentation, and the bonus is that they are virtually painless.
2) Laser therapy
Laser treatments can be highly beneficial for hyperpigmentation – for example, the Dye-VL laser works by directly targeting and dispersing melatonin in dark patches on your skin to reveal a more even complexion.
3) Skin brightening creams
If you are looking for a daily hyperpigmentation treatment that you can use at home, you might want to consider a skin lightening or brightening cream or serum. These typically contain important brightening ingredients such as Vitamin C and arbutin.
4) Chemical exfoliants
Chemical exfoliants that contain acids such as Alpha Hydroxyl Acids (with common types including lactic acid and glycolic acid) are another option if you have hyperpigmentation as they can be used to treat uneven skin tone and discolouration. These ingredients work by gently exfoliating the top layer of dead skin cells to reveal brighter skin underneath and fade dark spots.
Retinol is a form of vitamin A that is well-known for its anti-ageing effects. It’s not the most common treatment for hyperpigmentation but it can be useful in accelerating your natural skin cell turnover and forming more even pigmentation.
It’s important to keep skin moisturised when you are treating hyperpigmentation, so Profhilo can work well in combination with other treatments aimed at exfoliating and brightening the skin. Profhilo contains a high concentration of hyaluronic acid that is injected directly into the skin. It works by stimulating collagen and elastin and has a long-lasting rejuvenating effect.
Microneedling is a treatment that involves tiny needles being pressed into the skin to push a combination of vitamins and active ingredients to the deeper layers. It stimulates the production of collagen and prompts skin cell turnover, which can help to lighten pigmentation. It is a minimally invasive treatment with virtually no downtime.
8) Sun protection and limiting exposure
One final important ongoing treatment note for hyperpigmentation – the best way to prevent or minimise any future damage is to protect your skin from the sun. As we explored above, sun exposure is the primary cause of hyperpigmentation so you should apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or above every day. During the hot summer months, you should also be careful with how often you are exposed to full sunlight and seek shade where possible.
We hope this guide on how to treat hyperpigmentation has been useful. There is a range of treatment options available depending on your individual situation, so the best next step is to speak to a consultant about your treatment plan.