What exactly lies behind facial hyperpigmentation and what is the cure?
We can all agree that enjoying the sun brings us many benefits and happiness, from creating vitamin D to relieving stress and depression. However, after summer vacations and prolonged sun exposure, unwanted dark spots, better known as hyperpigmentation, can appear on the skin.
Hyperpigmentation, or dark spots of various shapes, is one of the most stubborn aesthetic skin problems that sooner or later most people encounter. Maybe you are already convinced on your own skin that once they appear, removal is not always easy! Hyperpigmentation of the face, neck, cleveage and arms most often occurs, and in addition to shapes, they also vary in color. We notice them as shallow and irregular spots, darker than the rest of the skin that surrounds them, and the cause of their formation is the excessive production of melanin in certain parts of the skin. Dark spots of irregular shape are an increasingly common aesthetic problem for women, but also for men, and although they are more pronounced after the age of 40, they often appear much earlier due to excessive sun exposure without protection. These are hyperpigmentations or discolorations of the skin, disorders caused by increased production of the pigment melanin in the skin. Although it is a very common phenomenon, hyperpigmentation spots are still considered one of the most demanding signs of aging, because they add years to the face, and treatment, unfortunately, does not take place overnight.
In the following, we will reveal the different types of hyperpigmentation, what are the types and forms of hyperpigmentation and explain the causes of its occurrence. We will also reveal to you how you can prevent hyperpigmentation and what are the steps in skin care that can affect the reduction of hyperpigmentation spots after they have already formed.
What is hyperpigmentation?
The term hyperpigmentation is associated with uneven spots on the skin caused by excessive melanin production. In the epidermis, i.e. the surface layer of the skin, melanocytes produce the brown pigment melanin, which is then transferred to the surface of the skin and then, depending on the amount, the skin color changes. Melanin is a natural pigment that is produced from the amino acid tyrosine under the action of enzymes and gives our skin, hair and eyes their natural color. The production of melanin, and consequently the color of the skin, depends on a number of important factors, and above all on our genetic predisposition, exposure to UV radiation, the influence of hormones, as well as skin injuries. Thus, hyperpigmentation occurs when internal or external factors cause increased melanin production resulting in a change in skin color, most often in areas exposed to the sun. There are various forms of hyperpigmentation that can appear on your skin, such as pigment spots (age spots and sun spots), melasma, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, each of which manifests itself in the form of shallow, dark spots on the skin of various sizes and shapes. Hyperpigmentation most often occurs in areas most exposed to direct sunlight, such as the face, palms, neck and cleveage, and the causes of increased melanin production in these areas can be different, such as pregnancy, certain diseases, aging, use of certain photosensitive drugs, vitamins and cosmetics, skin trauma or acne scars, and even genetic predisposition, and can be the result of aesthetic treatments. However, the most common and strongest cause is certainly increased exposure to sunlight without adequate UV protection, because it directly stimulates the production of melanin. Melanin acts as a natural protection of the skin from UV radiation, which is why skin exposed to the sun takes on a tan. But be sure to know that excessive sun exposure can disrupt the normal functioning of your skin and cause hyperpigmentation.
Causes of hyperpigmentation spots
We have already mentioned that hyperpigmentation occurs due to excessive production of melanin which is a natural pigment that gives our skin, hair and eyes their natural color. Excessive melanin production can be affected by a number of factors, but the most important are related to sun exposure, genetics, hormonal influences, and injuries or inflammation to the skin.
Hyperpigmentation and sun exposure
Excessive sun exposure is a major cause of hyperpigmentation, as sunlight stimulates melanin production. Melanin acts as a natural protection of the skin from the sun, protecting it from harmful UV radiation, and it is precisely because of it that the skin exposed to the sun gets a tan. However, excessive sun exposure can disrupt this process and cause hyperpigmentation.
Hyperpigmentation and hormones
Hormones are the main causes of a special type of hyperpigmentation known as melasma or chloasma. It is particularly common in women and is thought to occur when the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone stimulate excessive melanin production after exposing the skin to the sun. Hyperpigmentation can also occur as a side effect of some hormone therapies, such as birth control pills.
Hyperpigmentation and aging
As the skin ages, the number of melanin-producing cells, known as melanocytes, decreases, but the remaining ones increase in size and their redistribution changes, causing physiological changes that then affect the formation and enlargement of age spots, mostly in individuals older than 40 years.
Hyperpigmentation and skin injuries and inflammation
As the name suggests, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation occurs after an injury or inflammation of the skin, such as cuts, burns, exposure to chemicals, acne, atopic dermatitis, or psoriasis. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation occurs after the wound has healed, after the skin has darkened and lost color.
Hyperpigmentation and diseases and drugs
Hyperpigmentation is also a symptom of some diseases, for example, autoimmune diseases and diseases of the digestive system, metabolic disorders and vitamin deficiency. It can also occur as a side effect of some hormone therapies, chemotherapy, antibiotics, antiepileptics and other medications.
What are the forms of hyperpigmentation?
We have already mentioned that there are several forms of hyperpigmentation that can appear on your skin, such as pigment spots such as age spots and sun spots, melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), and below we will explain each of these forms in more detail, what are the characteristics of each shape and why such stains occur at all.
What causes pigmentation spots?
Melasma, also known as "pregnancy mask", is a form of hyperpigmentation that usually occurs symmetrically in areas of the body that are constantly exposed to the sun, such as on the face, especially on the cheeks, nose, forehead and upper lip, and sometimes on other parts of the body exposed to the sun, such as the forearms. Moreover, sun exposure is a major factor in aggravating the situation. The onset of melasma is a direct link to hormonal changes that occur when taking oral contraceptives or during pregnancy, but certain genetic predispositions also have an impact. Melasma is therefore more common in women, especially during and after pregnancy.
There are three types of melasma: epidermal, dermal, and mixed. Epidermal melasma affects the upper layer of the skin, hyperpigmentation is brown and has clearly defined borders. Dermal melasma affects the deeper layer of the skin, the dermis, and is characterized by blue-gray spots. Mixed melasma, which is a combination of epidermal and dermal melasma, manifests as a brownish-gray pigment. Due to the depth of melanin pigments in dermal melasma and mixed-type melasma, these two forms may be more difficult to treat.
What causes melasma?
Melasma is caused by excessive production of the pigment melanin. Although this condition occurs in response to hormonal changes such as pregnancy, taking birth control pills, or hormone replacement therapy, other factors such as UV exposure, familial predispositions, age, and some epilepsy medications can also have an impact. Melanocytes, i.e. melanin-producing cells located in the basal layer of the epidermis, are responsible for increased epidermal pigmentation in melasma. During pregnancy, endogenous hormones stimulate melanocytes which is why they produce more melanin pigments. Also, women who take birth control pills or take hormone replacement therapy may get melasma because their body goes through hormonal changes similar to those that occur during pregnancy, meaning melanocytes also produce more melanin pigments leading to hyperpigmentation.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation occurs in response to the healing of an injury or a blow to the skin, after which a shallow spot or discoloration remains. It is also common in people whose skin is prone to acne and can sometimes be caused by aesthetic procedures such as dermabrasion, chemical peels and laser therapies. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation manifests itself in the form of shallow, dark areas on the skin, and such spots can vary in color from pink to red, brown, or black, depending on skin color and degree of discoloration. They can look like freckles of a different color or larger darker spots, and they can also be shiny or look like “new” skin. All skin types are susceptible to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, but it is more prevalent in people with a darker complexion. When it comes to gender, both men and women are equally susceptible to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Stains of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation can be caused by rather insignificant pimples as well as more serious injuries. However, the greater the inflammation, the more pronounced the spots of gradual hyperpigmentation in terms of size and color will be. It is very important to mention that if the pimple shrinks or touches too much, it increases the chance of developing post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and although it does not cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, the sun can worsen symptoms, darken affected skin areas and prolong the time it takes to remove blemishes.
What causes progressive hyperpigmentation?
When the skin becomes inflamed due to injury, rash, pimples or any other type of impact, it stimulates melanocytes, or melanin-producing cells, to release an excessive amount of melanosomes that contain enzymes responsible for producing melanin. These dropped pigment grains darken and change the color of previously injured skin and remain there long after the wound has healed. Recovery time varies, but on average it can take three to 24 months for dark areas on the skin to fade, but in some cases it can take longer. The duration of recovery depends on the difference between the color of natural skin and tanned skin, so the greater this difference, the longer it will take to even out the tone.
How to reduce hyperpigmentation spots?
Once we have learned what hyperpigmentation is and what types there are, we will continue with tips that can help you reduce hyperpigmentation spots. To remove skin discoloration caused by hyperpigmentation, laser therapy or chemical peels that remove hyperpigmented skin cells are used to reduce blemishes so that new skin can form without hyperpigmentation. When using chemical peels, such as AHA acids, the role of chemical peels is the controlled exfoliation of several layers of cells, the removal of old and dead skin cells, thus encouraging the growth of new cells. After chemical peeling, the skin becomes smoother, pores are reduced and narrowed, shallow wrinkles are alleviated, acne scars are reduced, skin color is evened out and the radiance and radiance of the skin is improved. Laser therapy, on the other hand, uses high-energy light on the affected areas of the skin to address hyperpigmentation spots.
If you are fighting hyperpigmentation spots, we advise you to look for those that have the following ingredients when you buy your skin care products: glycolic acid, retinoic acid and vitamin C. Glycolic acid is an acid used by dermatologists in chemical peels and is a common active ingredient in many topical creams for hyperpigmentation. Retinoic acid has been shown to be effective in combating hyperpigmentation, but can cause side effects such as irritation and excessive sensitivity to the sun, which is a pre-existing problem for people suffering from progressive hyperpigmentation. But you should know that retinoic acid should not be used by pregnant and breastfeeding women. Vitamin C derivatives have been shown to be relatively effective in removing hyperpigmentation, especially progressive hyperpigmentation, and are often used in combination with other active ingredients.
It is very important to know that the sun's UV rays have a great effect on the skin. Sun exposure is likely to worsen symptoms and, with as little exposure as possible, it is recommended to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen as part of your daily cleaning and care routine. You should not expect the results of the fight against hyperpigmentation overnight because treatments can take up to several weeks before visible improvements on the skin, so consistency, patience and perseverance are important.
PREVENTION TIPS - 5 natural ways to prevent hyperpigmentation
Unfortunately, no method, not even the most expensive creams can fully guarantee that we will be able to prevent the occurrence of hyperpigmentation with the first rays of the sun, but we bring you 5 natural and simple ways to at least slow down the arrival of hyperpigmentation.
- The basic basis of the treatment of hyperpigmentation is sun protection, which blocks UVB, UVA, but also the visible part of the spectrum, which needs to be applied daily, regardless of the season. In addition to applying sunscreen, it is necessary to wear a hat, sunglasses, but also to avoid the sun from 11 am to 4 pm when it is strongest. So, limit sun exposure, and protect exposed skin with SPF all year round.
- Consuming foods rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins C and E, and omega 3 fatty acids such as berries, green leafy vegetables, wild salmon, pomegranate, strawberries, blueberries and cherries, tomatoes, carrots and sweet potatoes, and the inevitable green tea.
- According to the doctor's recommendation, the use of dietary supplements that will improve the appearance and health of your skin can also help. These can be anti-oxidants including vitamins A, C and E, vitamins B3 and B 5, omega 3 fatty acids and zinc.
- Natural cosmetics rich in herbal active ingredients, without harmful synthetic ingredients also prove to be a great way to prevent hyperpigmentation.
- Regular exercise helps to strengthen your immune system and provide your body with much-needed detoxification and circulation.
THE EFFECT OF PEELING IN THE FIGHT AGAINST HYPERPIGMENTATION
Help in the fight against hyperpigmentation spots on the body should be La PIEL peels, which with their ingredients reduce dark spots on your body, and at the same time provide you with healthy, soft and well-groomed skin. Coffee BABE, Matcha BABE and Sugar BABE with the help of their natural ingredients such as argan oil, jojoba and almonds, shea butter and vitamin E, help repair damaged skin and promote wound healing, encourage your skin to self-regenerate, and deeply nourish and food.