Hyperpigmentation Treatment

Hyperpigmentation treatment is becoming a very hot topic in society today.  The term hyperpigmentation refers to having too much pigment, or color, in the skin.  It looks like dark spots or patches on the surface of the skin.  You may have heard them described as “age spots”, “sun spots” or “liver spots”. The spots are formed when the body produces increased amounts of melanin in response to a disease, hormonal change, allergy, or other trauma.

Hyperpigmentation can be caused by several things such as sun damage, inflammation, or acne.  People of certain ethnicities are more prone to hyperpigmentation.  Those of Asian, Mediterranean, of African descent are more susceptible to this skin condition.  There are also some medical conditions that are associated with hyperpigmentation including Celiac’s disease, Addison’s disease and Cushing’s disease.  Various drugs such as antibiotics, antiarrhythmics, and antimalaria medications can also increase the risk of developing hyperpigmentation.

Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

A related condition called post inflammatory hyperpigmentation is discoloration that occurs after the body has healed from a skin disease or trauma.  Many people see signs of this after an acne flare up and can be mistaken for scars.  It could also occur after an allergic reaction to food or medication has caused a skin reaction or after a person has suffered from burns.

Hyperpigmentation Treatment

Hyperpigmentation treatment usually begins with use of topical products, or creams applied to the skin.  These are usually applied twice a day after your normal cleansing routine.  With most creams, you can put your makeup on after letting it dry.  If the spots do not respond to these creams, there are cosmetic procedures that can be completed to improve the look of one’s skin.  As previously mentioned, many hyperpigmentation treatments are topical products containing alpha hydroxy acids, retinoids, or hydroquinone.  Alpha hydroxy acids are used to exfoliate the skin and decrease the appearance of dark spots.  There are over-the-counter products, such as Clinique’s Dark Spot Corrector, and prescription options for this type of treatment.  Topical Retinoids can be used increase the rate at which the skin is exfoliated and cell changeover occurs.  Most strong topical Retinoids require a prescription however; some products, such as Philosophy’s Anti-Aging Retinoid Solution, are available over the counter.  Other topical treatments contain the active ingredient Hydroquinone.  Hydroquinone is reported to be the only FDA-approved ingredient for dark spot correction.  It works by blocking the enzyme that triggers the body to produce melanin.  It is important to note that although this product has proven to be effective, it can be very irritating to the skin.  A 1-2% hydroquinone product, such as Proactiv’s Dark Spot Corrector, can be purchased over the counter.  3-4% hydroquinone products are available with a prescription from your dermatologist.  There are also cosmetic procedures such as chemical peels, dermabraision, and microdermabrasion that can be performed by a dermatologist or cosmetologist to help fade dark spots if topical options are not effective.   Whichever method of treatment you choose, it is very important to wear sunscreen and reduce exposure to the sun while undergoing hyperpigmentation treatment.