Melanin is the chemical that gives skin its pigmentation. Higher levels of this chemical can cause darkening and discoloration of the skin known as Hyperpigmentation. This is one of the most common skin problems that usually worsens with age. It may appear in the form of red, brown, pink or even purple-looking spots, clusters or streaks on the surface of the skin. Areas of the skin where hyperpigmentation occurs will appear darker than the rest of the skin.
There are several types of hyperpigmentation that tend to cause different symptoms, some of which are easier to treat than others. However, the three main types of hyperpigmentation are:
- Sunspots or sun damage - Small and flat sunspots can be either light or dark brown and tend to develop on parts of the skin exposed to the most sunlight such as the face, chest, neck, and hands. Freckles, on the other hand, appear as light-dark brown, red or black small dots that tend to get darker with sun exposure and occur most often on the face, chest, arms and upper back.
- Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation - This appears as a result of an injury or inflammation of the skin caused by an illness, disorders or hormonal problems. Acne, eczema, psoriasis or contact dermatitis can also contribute to higher pigmentation and pink, red or dark brown spots developing.
- Melasma - This is the type of skin discoloration that turns patches of skin light-to-medium brown. It usually develops on the face, including on the cheeks, sides of the face, the upper part of the nose, forehead and above the lips and is caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy, when taking birth control pills, or during times of hormonal imbalance.
Treatments for Hyperpigmentation
There are many different topical hyperpigmentation treatments and skin care products available made with a number of active chemical ingredients that help to lighten and brighten skin. Some of the ingredients found in creams, serums, peels, and lotions that serve as hyperpigmentation treatments include:
- Creams containing hydroquinone
- Depigmentation peel
- Salicylic or glycolic acid
- Chemical peels
- Hyperpigmentation laser treatments