Ever looked at a dark spot on your face and wondered why it does not just fade away? These dark spots are caused by an overproduction of melanin due to various reasons. Some of which include damage to the melanocytes or melanin producing cells, skin inflammation, injuries, acne, excessive exposure to sunlight, hormonal imbalance and others. Aging is also a factor for skin pigmentation. As we age, there is a sharp decline in the production of collagen and elastin which keeps the skin young and helps in faster healing. With age, any changes to the skin takes longer than usual for healing and skin pigments could become more prominent.
While skin pigmentation as such does not cause any harm, it is very important to identify the underlying causes for the pigmentation. Hormones and its imbalance have a direct impact on the skin. Skin pigmentation due to hormonal imbalance is very common among women. Melasma or chloasma are the most common conditions caused by hormonal imbalance. This is caused by an increase in estrogen and progesterone levels that in turn cause an over-production of melanin, especially when the skin is under direct exposure to bright sunlight. This condition is also highly common among pregnant women due to the natural change in the hormone levels in the body. Melasma can also be caused by contraceptive pills, hormone replacement therapies, thyroid disorders and stress.
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Skin pigmentation treatments should ideally be based on the identification of the exact reasons for the condition. However, there are a plenty of treatment options that are available as Over-the-Counter or OTC medicines which are used for hyperpigmentation treatment. Some of these include skin lightening or whitening creams, retinoid (derived from vitamin A) and facial peels. For more solid results for hyperpigmentation, it is best to consult a cosmetologist who could identity the right treatment based on the individual’s condition. Pigmentation on the face are often more concerning. The primary reasons for pigmentation on the face is its direct exposure to harsh sunlight and acne. Acne pigmentation is widely common among teenagers and adults. IPL(Intense Pulse Light) therapy, microdermabrasion, dermabrasion are some of the other in office treatments that help reduce these spots to a great extent.
Hyperpigmentation around the mouth could be due to weather conditions, suntan, certain medications and injury. It could also be a result of certain more serious diseases such as melanoma, endocrine disorders, diabetes and others. You would have noticed discoloured lips either on yourself or your kin. Hyperpigmentation on the lips is very common especially among the brown-skinned communities. The main reasons for lip hyperpigmentation include smoking, pregnancy, excessive exposure to sunlight and as a reaction to certain medications. Nicotine in the tobacco creates excessive production of melanin and hence dark and pigmented lips are common among tobacco smokers. Melasma is a primary reason for hyperpigmentation of the nose as well. Melasma induced pigmentation appears commonly on the bridge of the nose. If the pigmentation is towards the tip of the nose; the reasons could vary from side effects of certain medications to more serious conditions such as the inflammation of cells (scarcoidosis). Body folds such as the neck and armpits are another region highly susceptible to pigmentation. Hyperpigmentation of the skin can appear dark brown to black with or without skin tags. Individuals with obesity, diabetes and certain medical conditions have neck hyperpigmentation. It is extremely important to consult a doctor to understand the root cause of such pigmentations and undergo appropriate treatments. We have all had dark circles around the eyes at some point in our lives. Hyperpigmentation around the eyes could be due to lack of sleep, stress, sinus infections, skin eczema, anemia, dermatitis and others.
Hyperpigmentation, irrespective of which part of the body requires a close attention and medical consultation to rule out underlying health or skin problems.
The treatment for hyperpigmentation ranges from home remedies to topical creams and in-office cosmetic procedures. Most commonly used topical creams include retinoid, hydroquinone, steroids and vitamin c supplements. Some of the in-office treatments include:
Hyperpigmentation laser treatments work on the principle of sending heat waves or light energy to the inner layers of the epidermis that results in peeling off layer by layer of the pigmented region. Laser pigmentation removal is a widely performed and common procedure. The results could last from about 3 to 6 months’ post procedure.
This technique is an advanced form of facial. Chemicals are used smoothen the skin and the peel will put out the outermost layer. At times, hyperpigmentation after chemical peels are seen. The symptoms can be managed by the application of ice packs, calamine or steroid lotions. This is referred to as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or PIH.
This procedure is performed by the cosmetologist by rubbing it with a pole like instrument that exfoliates and removes the outer layer of the skin.
The best treatment for hyperpigmentation of the face or other parts can be best determined by a qualified professional. No one treatment can be called out as the best since each individual will have varied treatments that work well for them. Depending on the severity of the pigmentation and its underlying causes, a cosmetologist can determine whether topical creams or cosmetic procedures would work well.
Just like hyperpigmentation, there can also be a loss of pigmentation referred to as hypopigmentation. The affected region would appear pale and white when compared to the rest of the body due to the loss of melanin. This is quite common in the wounded region post an injury. There could also be skin conditions that lead to a decrease in the production of melanin such as vitiligo and certain autoimmune conditions. Hypopigmentation treatments include topical medications and cosmetic procedures such as laser treatments, combination of laser and similar therapy, steroids and others.
Skin pigmentation removal procedures start from INR 1,500 and upwards. Non-invasive procedures could go up to about INR 50,000. For surgical treatments the cost would vary and could be around INR 1,25,000. The exact cost would depend on the severity of the condition, the city and clinic you are getting the treatment in. Cost of laser treatments for dark spots on the skin or face could start at INR 1000 to INR 40,000. The exact will depend up the area or circumference of the skin to be treated and the type of laser technique used.
It is extremely important to get treated for skin pigmentation from a qualified cosmetologist. Cosmetic procedures such as lasers or microdermabrasion require expertise and skill. The chances of side effects and complications can be minimized under the care of a qualified surgeon or cosmetologist. Dermatologists can identity the nature of pigmentation and create a treatment plan that could result in the best and long lasting results.
An increase in melanin increases your chance of skin pigmentation. When our skin has been inflamed (due to acne, infections, excessive exposure to sunlight and other reasons) or injured (due to a fall, insect bite and others), there is excessive production of melanin in order to heal the region. This is the common cause of pigments. Hence, the reason why you would find a darker skin on the region of you had a pimple.
Skin pigmentation can be reversed based on how severe the condition has been. Most skin pigments show signs of healing with appropriate treatments which includes home remedies, topical creams and cosmetic procedures. Home remedies and topical creams would take more time and effort for the results to show up when compared to cosmetic procedures. A laser therapy, chemical peel or microdermabrasion can show better results that last longer.
The below treatments could be apt for treating skin/face pigmentation. It would be hard to call out any one treatment as best, since the results are patient specific.
The time taken for hyperpigmentation to fade depends on how deep the pigments are how dark the area is compared to the surrounding region. On an average, it would take anywhere between three to twenty-four months for the pigments to heal. The time taken is also dependent on the type of treatment that the individual takes.
Pigmentation can be removed for a longer duration or permanently with the use of cosmetic procedures such as laser therapy, microdermabrasion, IPL therapy and others.
One could have their skin permanently free off dark spots and blemishes. It is nearly impossible to completely change a person’s natural colour tone with skin lightening techniques. These techniques aim at evening out the colour of the skin and giving an extra shine and glow.
A person’s natural skin colour and tone cannot be changed drastically through medical procedures. Individuals must stay vigilant of any claims that promise a change of colour from dark to fair or vice versa. Dermatological procedures only aim at evening out the skin to remove marks, scars, spots and pigments.
Individuals can aim at improving their natural complexion and keeping the skin healthy by the below techniques.
To reduce hormonal pigmentation, one could resort to chemical peels, laser therapy, microdermabrasion and other cosmetic procedures. Sunscreen and sun protective lotions must be used regularly since the condition often worsens with excessive exposure to sunlight.
Main causes for hyperpigmentation includes inflammation of the skin which leads to excess melanin production. Acne, thyroid disorders, side-effect of certain medications, melasma, excessive exposure to sunlight are the most common reasons.
Pigmentation can be removed with appropriate treatment. Depending on the condition, its root causes and severity, a doctor could suggest the right treatment plan. Some of the treatment techniques include topical creams, pills, supplements and cosmetic procedures such as laser treatment, IPL therapy, microdermabrasion and others.
Hormonal imbalances are the primary reason for the condition called melasma. Certain treatments to rectify hormonal imbalances could lead to hyperpigmentation. Hormonal imbalances are often treated along with medication such as hydroquinone and retinoid for managing pigmentation.
Oestrogen and progesterone can stimulate the over production of melanin producing cells that can cause skin pigmentation. Also, the production of melanocyte-stimulating hormone increases with the exposure to sunlight leading to pigments.
Just like how pigments are formed, an individual could loss pigments. The area of pigment loss will appear lighter than the surrounding region. This is common after an injury and with skin conditions such as vitiligo (hypopigmentation). Certain autoimmune disorders may also lead to the loss of pigments.
The primary reasons for hyperpigmentation are inflammation (acne, injury, infections) and exposure to sunlight (aids production of melanocyte stimulating hormones). To prevent your chances at getting hyperpigmentation, one must take appropriate care of the skin and use a topical cream with SPF when out and about.