Hyperpigmentation: Root Cause, Preventive Measures And Solutions

To get rid of hyperpigmentation caused by a skin condition, you must effectively treat the skin condition first. When the breakouts or flare-ups stop, you get rid of what’s causing the hyperpigmentation.

Even though you cannot cure all forms of hyperpigmentation, you can prevent it from developing again.
Even though you cannot cure all forms of hyperpigmentation, you can prevent it from developing again.

People have been suffering from hyperpigmentation for years. They try home remedies, ayurvedic products, lotions and organic products but nothing usually works. This is because they don’t know the root cause of these hyperpigmentation. It is said once you know the root cause of your problems then it’s easier to get rid of them.

We reached out to dermatologist Dr. Priti Shenai, founder of Skinworks – a leading beauty, and dermatology clinic based out of Mumbai – with an experience of 15 years who gave us her insights about hyperpigmentation, the root cause, preventive measures and solutions.

Hyperpigmentation

People who have medium to dark skin tones get dark spots and patches because something triggers their skin to make extra melanin, the substance that gives skin its color. Many everyday things can trigger extra melanin in people who have darker skin tones.

Dark spots and patches often appear when:

• A pimple or patch of eczema or psoriasis clears.
• A wound caused by an insect bite, cut, burn, or other injury heals.
• You take (or apply) certain medications.
• A skin or hair care product irritates your skin.
• Hormonal changes occur, such as during pregnancy.

Treatment depends upon what’s causing your hyperpigmentation. The following explains the treatment for each cause:

A skin condition like acne, eczema, or psoriasis: To get rid of hyperpigmentation caused by a skin condition, you must effectively treat the skin condition first. When the breakouts or flare-ups stop, you get rid of what’s causing the hyperpigmentation.
Most dark spots will then fade on their own over time, but it may take a long time.

Skin injury: As the wound heals, you may see a dark spot or patch. In time, the hyperpigmentation will fade if you don’t re-injure your skin.

Skin care product: When a skin or hair care product irritates your skin, the product can cause dark spots on your skin.

If you’re seeing dark spots, try using gentler products. They’re less likely to irritate your skin.

Products that are gentle on the skin are often labeled “for sensitive skin.” You may also see “fragrance-free” on the label.

When your skin is no longer irritated, new dark spots tend to stop appearing and existing spots often clear on their own over time.

Once what’s causing the dark spots or patches is found and stopped, fading can take time. A spot that is a few shades darker than your natural skin color will usually fade within 6 to 12 months.

If the color lies deep in your skin, however, fading can take years. Discoloration that lies deep in the skin is often slate blue to gray in color. It may also be brown, but the brown is much darker than your natural skin color.

Treatment can speed up the fading of dark spots and patches.

Effective treatment for dark spots and patches begins with sunscreen. Whether you’re treating the dark spots on your own or seeing a dermatologist, using sunscreen is essential when you’ll be outside. Applied daily, sunscreen can prevent new dark spots and patches. It can also help to clear existing ones.

You’ll want to apply sunscreen to all skin that clothing won’t cover. Dermatologists also recommend wearing a wide-brimmed hat when you’re outside.

To get the protection you need to prevent (and help clear) dark spots, use a sunscreen that offers all of the following:

• SPF 30 or higher
• Broad-spectrum protection
• Water-resistance
• One (or both) of these active ingredients, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide
• Non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores) formula if you have oily skin
• Tinted sunscreen to blend in your skin.

Once you eliminate what’s causing the dark spots and protect your skin from sunlight, a product that can fade dark spots (or even out your skin tone) tends to be more effective.

You can use a product that contains one of the following ingredients:

• Azelaic acid
• Glycolic acid
• Kojic acid
• Retinoid (retinol, tretinoin, adapalene gel, or tazarotene)
• Vitamin C

These ingredients can fade existing dark spots. In some cases, the ingredient can also slow down production of melanin, which is what causes the dark spots and patches.

Even though you cannot cure all forms of hyperpigmentation, you can prevent it from developing again. Here’s what dermatologists recommend:

• Apply your sunscreen every two hours, and after swimming or sweating.
• When outdoors, wear a wide-brimmed hat.
• Try to avoid being outdoors when the sun is strongest, which is between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
• Use skin care products that are gentle on your skin. If a product burns or stings when you apply it, stop using it.
• Continue to address the cause of the dark spots. For example, if you have a skin condition, continue to treat the skin condition.

How a dermatologist can help with hyperpigmentation

If the treatment you’re using fails to deliver the results you want, you may want to see a dermatologist. Dark spots and patches can be a challenge to treat. To get rid of some dark spots or patches, you may need a prescription-strength treatment.

A dermatologist has the knowledge and expertise to safely combine treatments like chemical peels and lasers to help you get the best results.

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