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Four Causes of Hyperpigmentation

The bad news is, hyperpigmentation is very common. Hyperpigmentation is a skin disorder caused by an increase in melanin, the substance in our body that is responsible for the color of our skin, and can result in dark spots and discoloration. It can stem from exposure to sunlight, use of drugs and medication, or certain health conditions.

The good news is, hyperpigmentation is very common. This means that it is being acknowledged and addressed. Celebrities Brooke Burke and Kerry Washington have both openly acknowledged their experiences with the condition and have provided graceful and glamorous examples for those in similar situations. In addition, research, motivated by widespread concern, is revealing new findings and treatments with surprising frequency. Here are some types of the condition, and some of the newest treatment breakthroughs.

Woman checking face

Types of Pigmentation
Drug Induced Hyperpigmentation (DIH)
DIH is pigmentation caused by illness and reaction to drugs and certain medications. The resulting skin pattern is typically diffuse and characterized by specific hues.

Lentigines
Otherwise known as age spots, lentigines are spots with a well-defined edge and, while not directly caused by aging, tend to become more prevalent with age. Lentigines are a result of UV exposure and are found on 90% of light skinned people over 60.

Melasma
Melasma is a result of hormonal irregularities and is associated with pregnancy, thyroid dysfunction, birth control pills, and hormone replacement therapy.

Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)
PIH results from injuries, friction, acne, even certain skin treatments, such as chemical peels and extractions. It is generally the most treatable form of hyperpigmentation and usually resolves itself with skin regeneration.

Treatment
When it comes to choosing brightening treatments, the intensity of the exfoliation must align with the sensitivity of the subject’s skin. The mildest treatments include papaya and pumpkin enzyme, sugar cane and lactic acid, and are generally suited to all skin types.

Those with higher tolerance may want to use trichloroacetic acid (TCA) or salicylic acid to increase cell turnover.

Woman in mirror

Brightening Treatments
There are several recommend brightening treatments for hyperpigmentation. Glucosamine is a commonly recommended brightening treatment which interrupts UV-triggered chemical signals that lead to production of melanin. Hydrolyzed pearl powder is a tyrosinase inhibitor and increases skin radiance. Licorice root extract is an antioxidant known to fight free radical damage. Niacinamide decreases color deposits and reduces inflammation and pigmentation. Vitamin C is another antioxidant known to prevent tyrosinase production.

Peptides
Peptides are the latest ground breaking found to be effective in the treatment of hyperpigmentation.

Azelaic Acid
This natural fatty acid developed for acne treatment has proven an effective ingredient in the treatment of hyperpigmentation, especially in the case of PIH caused by acne. Studies found azelaic acid to provide results similar to four percent hydroquinone without harmful side effects.

Kojic Acid
Another breakthrough option, kojic acid inhibits production of tyrosinase and can be used in combination with skin lighteners as a hydroquinone alternative. Drawbacks include the occurrence contact dermatitis in certain individuals.

Retinoids
Retinoids work as tyrosinase inhibitors and interrupters of the synthesis of melanin. Prescription tretinoin, while known to be effective in pigmentation reduction, may require up to 24 weeks of treatment before noticeable improvement occurs. Because pigmentation issues can take anywhere from two weeks to a year to resolve it is important that users have reasonable expectations and not expect “overnight results.”

How do you deal with hyperpigmentation? Let us know what works for you!

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