Pigmentation of the skin is a misleading phrase…when it’s problematic it is best referred to as hyperpigmentation, the hyper part of the word is describing the fact that there’s too much pigment in that area. All skin contains pigment…as does hair; this is what gives our skin its unique tone and colour. When damage or illness has occurred however, then the skin may be affected permanently or temporarily and too much pigment becomes apparent in visible marks on the face or body.
Why Does Hyperpigmentation Occur?
Now for the scientific part…hyperpigmentation happens because of one on of two instances; either an abnormally high concentration of melonocytes which over-produce melanin (responsible for colouring our skin) or when melonocytes are hyperactive; this often occurs due to sun exposure.
Hyperpigmentation can appear anywhere on the body but it is most commonly problematic when it appears on the face, hands or neck.
The various types of overly pigmented spots are classified as different issues…as follows.
- Lentigo or lentigenes: These are literally freckles…lentigo is one freckle and lentigene are many.
- Solar lentigenes: Sun spots or age spots…call them what you will these are most commonly found in people who are over 50 but can appear in younger people who have spent many hours in the sun with no protection.
- Melasma: Caused by hormonal changes and often found in pregnant women it’s also known as the “mask of pregnancy” and appears as a beige or brown discolouration usually across the cheeks.
If you have red marks on your skin from acne scars or other injuries to the skin’s surface then this is not really the same as hyperpigmentation but often due to the fact that the blood vessels beneath the skin’s surface have been damaged and are exposed.
What can I do about hyperpigmentation?
The best protection against this problem is to use sun protection on a daily basis. Sometimes it is caused by medication or by certain illnesses…if you’re in doubt about the cause of yours, speak to your doctor.
There are a wide range of treatments available for hyperpigmentation; laser therapy can help enormously. Today’s powerful and precise lasers can blast through the pigment that you don’t want…destroy it and dissipate it whilst leaving your healthy skin untouched.
Laser treatment is not painful and is very effective against age spots and other forms of pigmentation. Skin resurfacing can also help….if you’re unsure about which treatment is best for your particular issue, book a consultation to speak with a practitioner and work out an action plan.
Whilst makeup can cover hyperpigmentation to some degree it’s not a permanent solution…within a few short sessions, your skin could be fresh, clear and bright again.