Pigmentation is more likely to affect people with darker skin tones because they have more melanin. Melanin is the pigment which gives skin its colour and it is produced by cells called melanocytes. If the body produces too much or too little melanin, pigmentation issues may arise. There are various types of pigmentation and we asses your skin to find the best treatment.
Pigmentation is probably one of the most distressing problems for both the patient and the doctor. It affects those with darker skin tones more because they have more melanin. Melanin is the pigment which gives skin its colour and it is produced by cells called melanocytes. If the body produces too much or too little melanin, pigmentation issues may arise. The top 3 causes of pigmentation we see at our practice are; Melasma, Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) and Solar Lentigines or Sun Freckles.
Melasma or Chloasma
Melasma or Chloasma is a type of pigmentation, commonly seen in women. It presents as blotchy patches often over the forehead, cheeks and upper lip. It can be triggered by hormonal influences such as pregnancy and the use of a contraceptive pill containing oestrogen. It is also aggravated by sun exposure.
What can I do about it?
Ideally, all patients who have hyperpigmentation should have a proper assessment done by a dermatologist who will assess the depth of the condition and determine any exacerbating factors.
Severe forms of Melasma may require the use of a skin lightening agent, hydroquinone, which will lighten the skin (it does not always clear it completely). Once the pigmentation has improved, a maintenance regimen which includes non-hydroquinone skin products such as; Retinol, Azelaic Acid, Kojic Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Arbutin and Liquorice extract amongst others, will be required. These treatments have ingredients that specifically target melanin.
Although some chemical peels have been specially formulated to treat pigmentation, they need to be used with caution and under specialist supervision as a harsh peel can worsen the condition.
Will it ever go away?
Unfortunately, Melasma tends to be a chronic condition in many patients. There are many treatments that will improve and lighten the pigmentation but they often require some patients to use some form of treatment throughout their lives to maintain the results.
Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)
Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH) is a type of pigmentation which can be caused by sun damage or any trauma or inflammation that affects the skin.
Solar Lentigines or Sun Freckles
Solar Lentigines or Sun freckles are caused by long-term sun exposure. They usually present as fairly small, discreet round brown patches on the face and are best prevented by sun protection.
What is the one important thing about all pigmentation?
The sun is a trigger for pigmentation and your skin should never be unprotected when you are outdoors, even on overcast days. One day in the sun without proper sun protection is damaging to your skin, your pigmentation is guaranteed to worsen. Even the most expensive products or treatments will prove counter-productive if you don’t protect your skin from sun exposure.
Avoid using over-the-counter hydroquinone. Always consult a dermatologist or medical doctor who understands pigmentation. Treatment requires commitment and a budget as effective products can be expensive.
The good news is that acne is treatable. A combination of treatments from Dr Cebi Dermatology and a good home care regimen can leave your skin looking great.