How does pigmentation begin? Pigmentation or hyperpigmentation occurs when the skin darkens in patches or on a widespread basis. Pigmentation and hyperpigmentation can be the result of a combination of factors including hormones, sun exposure, inflammation, damage to the skin, and certain medications. When melanin or pigment is in overdrive and produced in excess from melanocytes, individuals begin to see these patches of pigment or dark spots on the skin.
Types of Pigmentation
Pigmentation can take various forms. Discoloration can be the result of:
- Sun spots and freckles can be seen after chronic sun exposure. This is usually seen on the hands and face.
- Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is basically inflammation caused by acne or picking at pimples, creating trauma on the skin. There is an increase in pigmentation as a result.
- Widespread Pigmentation can be the result of medical conditions such as Addison disease or dermatological ones such as Lichen Planus.
- Melasma is brown discoloration that forms in patches in the cheeks, upper lip/moustache area and forehead. It can be caused by hormones, birth control pills, and related to pregnancy as well.
Cosmetic Treatments for Pigmentation Available
Chemical peels that are gentle or low level in nature along with laser therapy can resolve hyperpigmentation issues.
Prescribed topical and oral medications may also be of benefit. This should be customized for you by your board-certified dermatologist.
Laser Treatments and Light Therapy
With multiple sessions of laser and light treatments, you can significantly minimize the appearance of unwanted pigmentation of the skin, especially on your face. Certain types of light treatments are more appropriate for sun freckles and skin rejuvenation, while others target sun damage and specific discoloration.
For example, photofacial therapy is a mild form of light therapy and is extremely popular for resolving pigmentation concerns. The procedure works in short, intense blasts of light to refine the skin’s tone while creating firmer and younger looking skin.
Other laser treatments are also available including the Fractional C02 laser which is more intense and effective for skin resurfacing. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a laser treatment that treats acne scars, rosacea, rashes and hyperpigmentation. PDT therapy treats melasma, age spots and sun damage specifically.