Unwanted skin pigmentation is a common skin issue faced by many people, resulting in them searching for various types of pigmentation treatment. There are various causes of pigmentation and most people have experienced it at some stage in their life. When the skin becomes darker than usual, it is termed hyperpigmentation. When the skin becomes lighter than usual, it is known as hypopigmentation. For understanding how these skin issues occur, we need to first understand the role of pigment in our skin’s natural colour and the types of pigmentation.
Melanin is a pigment which is produced by cells called Melanocytes present in the bottom layer of the skin’s epidermis. The melanin level in any individual decides the natural colour of their skin, ranging from dark brown to very fair. Melanin does not just play a role in determining the colour of the skin but also helps in protecting the skin from UVA and UVB rays. More melanin means more protection. UVA is known for causing cellular damage and UVB for sunburn.
When the melanin moves upwards through the layers of skin, the pigmentation on the surface of the skin becomes visible. Pigmentation irregularities happen when UVA radiation damages melanocytes and causes them to release melanin irregularly into the skin. It can be too much or too little. It can happen anywhere in the body but is mostly found in skin exposed to the sun such as the face, back of the hands, arms, etc. Pigmentation happens due to different causes and is present in people with different intensities. This difference in intensity helps in determining the optimal pigmentation treatment.
Causes of pigmentation
As mentioned above, the body produces an excess of melanin due to damage to melanocyte. This can happen due to sun damage, skin trauma, acne scarring, stress, hormonal irregularities, or hereditary predisposition. Your skin type can also be a factor. Fairer and lighter skin will be affected more by sun damage, darker skin will be impacted by more skin trauma, and olive skin will be affected by hormonal changes. There are different forms of pigmentation which include flat brown marks, age spots, large darker patches, and uneven skin tone.
Common types of pigmentation
The most common types of pigmentation are hyper-pigmentation and melasma.
Freckles, also known as ephelides, are the most common form of pigmentation. Some people may be born with freckles, but in most cases, they develop after repeated exposure to sunlight, especially if you have a fair complexion. They become darker and more apparent during the months of the summer season and normally fade away in the winter season. Freckles can be caused due to genetic factors as well.
Melasma can be found on the face and can be caused by hormonal changes like pregnancy, birth control pills, and hormone therapy including IVF and HRT. It can also happen due to medication which causes sensitivity to sunlight. Melasma usually forms a symmetrical pattern on the face.
● Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
PIH can happen after an injury to the skin. It is the discolouration of the skin which follows an inflammatory wound like rashes, scrapes, or pimples. Popping a pimple increases the chances of PIH as it increases inflammation. It can change the colour from white to pink, red, purple, and very dark brown. It affects both men and women of all skin types. However, it tends to be more severe in people with medium and dark complexions. As the skin begins to heal, it overproduces melanin, and this excess melanin darkens the skin. (Unlike acne scarring, PIH is a type of pigmentation that is similar to sun damage as it does not damage the hair follicle.) delete?
It is more commonly known as sunspots or liver spots and refers to pigmented spots. Unlike melasma, they have a clearly defined edge. They are a form of pigmentation that can occur anywhere on the body. Sunspots may vary in colour from light brown to black. These spots are caused by UV sun exposure. Their degree of darkness depends on how much UV light they are exposed to. It’s important to make sure that sunspots are regularly monitored as they may develop into skin cancer and melanoma. Annual checks with skin specialists are required.
How can you prevent further pigmentation?
The most effective way of avoiding pigmentation is to prevent further sun damage. One needs to protect the skin, wear sunscreen every day before stepping out in the sun - even during the winter season.
Now that you know about the types of pigmentation, it will be easy for you to prevent it and find a suitable pigmentation treatment.