Hyperpigmentation is a darkening or brown-blue discoloration of your skin when it over-produces melanin (that’s your body’s natural pigment responsible for skin and hair color). Hyperpigmentation usually occurs on the face, but other body sites, such as neck, hands and arms, may also be affected. It is one of the most common cosmetic concerns for both women and men, and often is accelerated with exposure to sunlight and as we age.
SOME IMPORTANT FACTS
1. People with skin-of-color (olive to darker skin tones) are more likely to be affected by hyperpigmentation. It is the third most common diagnosis in dark-complexioned patients in dermatology.
2. It can cause significant psychosocial distress, with negative impact on one’s self-image and quality of life.
3. The three most common types are:
• Melasma (triggered by hormonal changes, oral contraceptive pill, and pregnancy; exacerbated by sunlight).
• Family History (this is a known risk factor)-studies have reported tht 55% to 64% of melasma patients have a positive family history.
• Thyroid Disease (investigators have looked into the association between thyroid disease and melasma)-yet this area is still under investigation. Additional studies and analysis is ongoing.
• Post-Inflammatory (caused by localized trauma or inflammation in acne or eczema patients).
• Solar lentigines (due to long-standing sun exposure)
HOW TO PREVENT
1. Photo-protection: Avoid the triggers! Daily use of a broad spectrum sun protection factor (SPF) 30+ sunscreen, protective clothing, and avoid prolonged and excessive sun exposure.
2. Keep skin hydrated: Drink plenty of water, and incorporate natural moisturizing topical ingredients into your daily rituals.
3. Eat lots of antioxidant-rich foods, and maintain a balanced healthy diet. Antioxidants combat skin-damaging free radicals.
4. Insist on anti-inflammatory and gentle ingredients in your skincare regimen. Rosehip seed oil, chamomile, vitamin C, niacinamide to name a few - may help to slow melanin production, minimizing the pigmentation cycle and keeping your skin calm and even toned.
HOW TO TREAT
1. Natural active ingredients are a safe, effective, inexpensive, and over-the-counter alternative to harsh, synthetic depigmenting agents (that can irritate skin and/or potentially have potential health risks).
2. Combinations of natural bioactives can act synergistically on different melanin pathways, resulting in improved skin-brightening effects.
3. Many formulations are “generic” and not designed or marketed for specific skin tones or women with melanin rich skin.
4. Regular gentle exfoliation (1-2 times a week) is key to stimulating rapid cell turnover, enhancing removal of melanin from the skin, and skin regeneration.
** Remember to *ALWAYS* get “spots” on your body, or other skin concerns, evaluated by a "Board Certified Dermatologist" and have a yearly skin examination!
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