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Hyperpigmentation – Facts, Tips & Treatments

Hyperpigmentation – Facts, Tips & Treatments

Hyperpigmentation – What Is It?

Hyperpigmentation is a skin condition where there are patches of skin on the face or body that are darker than the normal skin color.  It is sometimes called sun spots, age spots or liver spots.

What Causes Hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is caused by an excess of melanin in the skin.  While UV exposure (sun damage) is the most common cause of hyperpigmentation other causes are:

  • Hormone fluctuations due to pregnancy, starting and stopping birth control and hormone replacement therapy
  • Genetic predisposition – People of all skin colors can get hyperpigmentation, but darker skin is more prone to developing hyperpigmentation
  • Medications can cause an overproduction of melanin, especially with UV exposure.  Some of the most common melanin inducing drugs are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and tetracyclines.
  • Injuries to the skin and acne breakouts can cause post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), leaving pigmented marks on the skin

Types of Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation shows up in different forms.

  • Lentigo – a freckle
  • Lentigenes – multiple freckles.
  • Solar Lentigenes – better known as sun spots, age spots or liver spots, and are caused by sun exposure.
  • Melasma –  splotchy brown or tan patches on the face.  Usually both sides of the face are affected, with the most common areas being on the cheeks, forehead and upper lip.  Melasma is usually caused by hormonal fluctuations.
  • Chloasma – Often referred to as the mask of pregnancy, this develops on the face and sometimes the abdomen.  Chloasma occurs in some pregnant women who overproduce melanin and gets worse with sun exposure.

Treatments for Hyperpigmentation

All skin types can be treated for hyperpigmentation, but the lighter the skin, the more aggressive the treatments can be.  People with darker skin tones have to be very cautious with the treatments and products that are used to avoid post inflammatory hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation (loss of skin color).  Treatments should be tailored to each person according to their skin tone.   The following are some of the treatments available for hyperpigmentation

  • Microdermabrasion or HydraFacials are a form of physical exfoliations that can help improve the appearance of hyperpigmentation.  These treatments can safely be used on all skin types.  They remove the surface layer of skin, making the area immediately appear lighter.  They also speed up cell turnover to replace the removed skin producing healthier, stronger skin which will cause the skin tone to look more even.  The other advantage of physical efoliations is that products designed for hyperpigmentation can penetrate deeper into the skin, producing better results.  This step is where an individual’s skin tone must be taken into consideration to avoid inflammation which can produce more hyperpigmentation.  A series of treatments, spaced one to two weeks apart is best for the treatment of hyperpigmentation.
  • Chemical and Enzyme Exfoliations remove the surface layer of skin by means of a chemical reaction in the skin.  Unless under a physician’s direction, a low dose approach with chemicals is recommended for hyperpigmentation.  Acids with a small molecular structure should not be used because they penetrate the skin very quickly and can cause inflammation, in turn causing increased hyperpigmentation.  There are many different types of acids and enzymes that can be used alone or in combination to treat multiple skin issues.  Some of the better choices for hyperpigmentation include Trichloroacetic Acid (TCA), Lactic Acid, Azelaic Acid, Kojic Acid and  L-Ascorbic Acid, pumpkin enzymes and yam enzymes.  Individual skin tone dictates what acids or enzymes can be used.

Products for Hyperpigmentation

We carry several products that will help with lightening pigmentation:

  • PCA Pigment Gel
  • PCA Intensive Clarity Treatment
  • PCA C&E
  • Eminence Bright Skin Collection

Call us to schedule an appointment to discuss your skin care needs.


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