What Causes Hyperpigmentation?
Sun damage; acne scarring; an eczema flare-upthere are a number of skin woes that may lead to a bout of hyperpigmentation. But, unfortunately, sometimes it's unavoidable. "One inherits his/her skin type and tendency towards hyperpigmentation. Melasma (a form of hyperpigmentation that is often a result of hormonal influences and harder to treat) also has a hereditary component. Environmental triggers and trauma to the skin also play a huge role," says Dr. Henry. The largest hormonal trigger of them all? Pregnancy and birth control pills, of course.
Is It More Common In Certain Skin Tones?
While hyperpigmentation is a condition that affects all skin tones, it is definitely more common for people of color. "Darker skin tones are more affected by hyperpigmentation because of the presence of increased melanin in the skin. Melanosomes (the cell structures that holds melanin) are full and leaky in darker skin types causing hyperpigmentation more readily." While these dark spots popping up on your face can be frustrating, rest assured that they can be tamed with the right treatment.
How to Treat Hyperpigmentation
Heat, hormones, and skin picking are all factors that can exacerbate hyperpigmentation, but sun exposure is by far the biggest culprit. "Hyperpigmentation can worsen during the summer months due to UV stimulation or melanocytes. Regular use of sunscreen can greatly reduce this stimulation," shares Dr. Henry. Products that contain brightening ingredients like vitamin C, azelaic acid, niacinamide, kojic acid, and hydroquinone can help to fade dark spots topically, and regular in-office peels and laser treatments can be extremely effective.
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The Bottom Line
You may not be able to avoid hyperpigmentation completely, but it certainly does not have to ruin a good skin day. A combination of religious sunscreen use (do we need to say that again for emphasis?), plus skincare with brightening ingredients and antioxidantswhich help to boost UV protectioncan make a huge impact in controlling spots from becoming larger or darker. And since not all spots are created equal, if all else fails, consult with a board certified dermatologist to find the best treatment for you.
Dr. Michelle Henry @drmichellehenry
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