Hyperpigmentation is when the skin starts storing extra melanin in little patches. Typically this happens because the skin was damaged by light, but there are other causes as well.
Kinds of Hyperpigmentation
Age spots are the most common form of hyperpigmentation. These dark spots are unsightly and generally appear more frequently as people grow older and their skin does not recover as well from damage from the sun, wind and other outside forces. The most common places for age spots are faces, hands and necks as these areas generally are exposed to the sun but people do not think of putting on sunscreen to protect themselves from the light.
Freckles are another manifestation of hyperpigmentation. These little spots tend to dot faces, chests, and other areas where the skin is very sensitive. These can be inherited from parents; however, exposure to sunlight can trigger them as well.
Melasma or chromal spots appear during pregnancy because the pregnancy hormones upset the body’s natural balance leading to strange effects. These much larger splotchy spots are more widely distributed than other forms of hyperpigmentation and may cover large areas of the face, neck, or torso. Luckily, the end of the pregnancy generally makes them go away.
Treatments for Hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation seldom goes away on its own. Luckily, there are many treatment options available.
1. Microderm abrasion
Microderm Abrasion is when fine grit is used to polish away the layer of dead skin. This will reveal healthy live skin and sometimes will scrape away hyperpigmented areas as well. Be sure to treat the skin carefully afterward to prevent the hyperpigmented areas from returning.
2. Over the Counter Medication
There are many over the counter medications on the market today with healthful ingredients such as licorice extract, kojic acid, azelaic acid, hydroquinone, ascorbic acid, and tretinoin (Retinol), that will help skin color return to normal. Be sure to apply sunscreen with this or the treatment will fail!
3. Intense Pulsed Light or laser skin resurfacing
This treatment uses lasers to burn away unwanted marks and blemishes leaving only healthy skin behind. Mild chemical peels may be used along with this treatment to help the skin come away more cleanly.
4. Prescription Medication
A doctor can provide intensive solutions to troublesome spots as well! Although it may be more expensive, there is a higher chance of success with professional help than if you do it yourself.