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An introduction to hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation is a common and typically harmless skin concern that develops patches of your skin that are darker in colour than usual. The darkening of your skin occurs when an excess of melanin forms deposits in the skin. While hyperpigmentation often occurs in small patches, it can also cover large areas or, in some cases, affect your entire body. 

Although increased pigmentation isn’t usually harmful, it can be a symptom of another medical condition, so if you’re concerned, you should always seek professional help. 

Types of hyperpigmentation 

While there are several types of hyperpigmentation, the most commons are melasma, sunspots and post-inflammatory.

  • Melasma – this type of hyperpigmentation is believed to be a result of hormonal changes, with many developing it during pregnancy. With Melasma, hyperpigmentation may appear all over your body, but more commonly on your stomach and face. 
  • Sunspots – sunspots, otherwise referred to as solar lentigines or liver spots, are relatively common. As the name suggests, sunspots are related to excess sun exposure and generally appear on areas exposed to the sun, such as your face or hands. 
  • Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation – is a type of hyperpigmentation that occurs due to inflammation or injury to your skin. A common cause of this is acne. 

Hyperpigmentation risk factors 

The most significant risk factors for general hyperpigmentation are inflammation and sun exposure. This is because both of these factors can increase melanin production, leading to noticeable hyperpigmentation. Depending on the type of hyperpigmentation you’re experiencing, other factors may include: 

  • Trauma to your skin – such as acne, a wound or a superficial burn 
  • Drugs that may increase your sensitivity to sunlight 
  • Oral contraceptive use or pregnancy (most commonly a factor concerning Melasma). 

If you have a phototype 4, 5 or 6 (black or brown skin), you may find you’re more prone to pigmentation changes. 

Treating hyperpigmented skin 

While many live with hyperpigmentation happily, you may feel that you’d like to treat yours. The good news is that it’s possible to do so in many cases. 

As with all skincare concerns and conditions, you should consult a professional. An aesthetician or dermatologist will be able to identify hyperpigmentation and its causes. 

If you see a doctor and decide you’d like to go down the medical route, you’ll likely be prescribed a topical medication such as hydroquinone, which will lighten your skin over time. 

If you’d prefer to treat your hyperpigmentation with over-the-counter options, you’ll find products that include hydroquinone in a lesser dose. 

Skin needling to treat hyperpigmentation 

Alternatively, you may choose a skincare treatment to combat your hyperpigmentation. I would opt for skin needling for my clients as it’s the safest procedure that will yield the best results. 

The process of skin needling requires no chemicals, as it stimulates your natural skin cell rejuvenation process. If you’d like to find out if skin needling is suitable for you, get in touch for an initial consultation

Preventing hyperpigmentation

As with most things in life, I believe prevention is better than treatment. While it’s not always possible to prevent hyperpigmentation, you can most definitely protect and nourish your skin by:

  • Using a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day 
  • Avoiding being in direct sunlight for prolonged time periods 
  • Double-checking any medications you’re on that may cause hyperpigmentation

To summarise, more often than not, hyperpigmentation is a harmless skin condition and is rarely a sign of something more serious. Some people may find those dark areas will fade on their own over time, particularly with adequate sun protection. In comparison, others may find that treatment is needed. Of course, no two clients are the same. So, the best place to start is by consulting a professional. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions or concerns you may have. In the meantime, you can follow my Instagram here

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