The Causes of Hyperpigmentation and its Treatments
According to skin experts, one of the major concerns that women have is hyperpigmentation or age spots. To effectively treat this condition, you need to understand the contributing factors, causes, and triggers.
For those of you not familiar with the term, hyperpigmentation is the medical word for discoloration of the skin. Hyperpigmentation in skin is the result of an increase in melanin, the substance in the skin responsible for color or pigment. Melasma is a condition characterized by tan or brown patches on the face. Women often get this during pregnancy, thus the term “the mask of pregnancy”. With the right combination of professional cosmetic treatments and skincare products, you can lighten your existing hyperpigmentation and inhibit further occurrence.
Causes of Hyperpigmentation
- Hormones – Pregnancy, menopause, or the use of birth control pills
- Stress – The stress on the skin from the adrenal system, such as Cushing’s syndrome.
- Toxins – Heavy metals and cigarette smoking
- Medications – Anti-fungal drugs, acne preparations, antibiotics, and antihypertensives
- Poor nutrition – Consuming too much alcohol and improper diet
Treatments for Hyperpigmentation
Microdermabrasion is the mechanical removal of superficial dead skin cells. With microdermabrasion, often called a “power peel”, the skin is removed with tiny crystals. The technician uses a special device to remove the dead skin build up leaving a clearer, brighter, and smoother complexion. Microdermabrasion works by exfoliating the excessive melanin. The combined use of a tyrosinase infusing solution after the treatment lessens the appearance of the dark patches. Microdermabrasion is best for dark skin types, those with sun damage, and for post-inflammatory skin changes.
With a chemical peel procedure, the technician applies a topical solution to induce a controlled form of wound healing on the skin. These peeling solutions contain facial acids that stimulate the shedding of dead hyperkeratinized skin cells. With a chemical peel, the body produces new epidermis cells to replace the discolored ones. The application process is usually around 20 minutes. Chemical peels are not suitable for darker skin types, and we do not recommend you try this at home. Candidates for chemical peels include those with fair skin, those with sun damage, and those with melasma.
Also called skin needling, derma-rolling involves the use of a fine, surgical stainless steel needle roller to make microscopic channels in your epidermis and dermis. This process stimulates your body’s own natural wound healing response to build collagen and promote new skin cell regeneration. Derma-rolling restores keratinocyte function, which in turn normalizes cell signaling with melanocytes. This mechanism reduces the amount of color being deposited onto the skin’ surface. With skin needling, the body releases growth factor to promote healing and deposit new collagen. This not only reduces the appearance of the hyperpigmentation, but it improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Derma-rolling is good for darker skin types.
Lasers are often used to treat hyperpigmentation and acne scarring. Laser therapy uses a process of selective photothermolysis to lighten and brighten the skin. Photothermolysis describes how the laser wavelength is attracted specifically to the excessive pigmented areas. By avoiding the light portions of the skin, the laser only concentrates on the problem sections. These nonablative lasers penetrate below the skin’s surface without damaging the outer layer. Laser therapy is often perfect for hereditary hyperpigmentation and sun damaged skin.
Normal functioning melanocyte cells in healthy skin are dependent on a well-balanced diet. The body needs appropriate nutrition for cell membrane function and wound healing and repair. Important nutrients include zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin B-3, and vitamin B-12. Zinc assists with healing and repair of the skin as well as hormone regulation. The essential omega-3 fatty acids regulate hormones and assist with cell membrane function. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant while supporting the adrenal glands in times of stress. Both vitamin B-3 and B-12 are necessary to prevent overproduction of melanin from the skin cells.
- WebMD.com (2012). Hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, and your skin. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/hyperpigmentation-hypopigmentation
- WebMD.com (2012). Non-surgical cosmetic procedures for the face. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/healthy-beauty/default.htm
Last Reviewed 11/Mar/2014
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