Like me, as the seasons change, you may notice changes in your skin’s tone and pigmentation. More often than not, when my golden tan from summer fades, I notice certain spots on my skin that stick around. What’s up with that?
Well, the answer is simple: hyper-pigmentation. Those “sun spots” that just won’t go away? That’s also known as hyper-pigmentation.
So, what is hyper-pigmentation anyway?
It is a usually harmless condition where patches of skin can become darker in color than the other “normal” colored surrounding skin. This occurs when an excess amount of melanin is produced.
Huh? What’s melanin?
Melanin is a class of pigment responsible for producing color in our bodies. Think: hair, skin and eyes.
Now, let’s talk about the melanocytes. These are melanin producing cells located in the bottom layer of the epidermis. Melanocytes are the reason our skin changes color for good or bad, better or worse. When these melanocytes get damaged, they lose their ability to function normally, which results in the hyper-pigmentation of our skin.
Causes of hyper-pigmentation include: unprotected sun exposure, certain medications, hormonal changes, past acne problems, inflammation and other skin injuries.
Symptoms of hyper-pigmentation include : leathery skin texture, dry or rough skin, uneven skin tone and dark spots.
When the remains of inflamed acne scars or lesions are visible, this is something called PIH (Post Inflammatory Hyper-pigmentation). The more inflamed the breakout, the larger and darker the PIH can be. Picking at or popping your pimples (as tempting as that may be) can also lead to PIH. Acne scars are the indentations or protrusions left behind on our skin by acne, while acne marks are flat red or brown dots left behind by pimples. Either way-dont pick, pop or scrape at your skin. If you do, you are welcoming higher chances for post inflammatory hyper-pigmentation.
The good news?
We can in fact lighten these spots on our body with the use of products such as hydroquinone, retinoids and antioxidants. I had never heard of these remedies before so I decided to do some research.
Hydroquinone-this is a skin lightener that has actually been banned in Europe and Asia because of all the cancerous risks associated with it. (No thanks!) However, it is still available in the US, but only by prescription. Here at Living Well, we don’t like to use products that contain questionable ingredients. So, let’s move on!
Retinoids-these can be topical or oral products. They are chemically related to Vitamin A and help with acne, anti-aging and hyper-pigmentation. Retinoids help get rid of dead skin cells at a “normal” rate so the dead skin cells do not bind together and clog your pores.
Antioxidants-these are molecules that inhibit the oxidation of other molecules. For example Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants in skin care. It slows down the aging process and prevents free radical damage. Also, with long term use, it can regenerate collagen, improve the appearance of wrinkles, lighten skins pigmentation and even brighten all over skin tone. If applied topically it can also provide a small amount of UV protection. Vitamin C is one of Reisa’s favorite ingredients – and she even has Vitamin C facial!
So, there you have it. Hyper-pigmentation is treatable, so you can work to restore an even skin tone and lessen those acne marks or scarring. For more information, please contact Reisa at Living Well. As a certified aestheticism she can diagnose and treat your hyper-pigmentation skin problems!