Hyperpigmentation - Freckles, Sun Spots, Melasma
Hyperpigmentation is a common, though usually harmless condition of the skin, where patches become darker in color than the other surrounding skin tissue - often refereed to as freckles, sun spots or melasma. This type of skin condition
can occur when there is excesses of melanin, the body's pigment that produces a person's normal skin color. Hyperpigmentation condition can affect the skin color of virtually all races of people.
Medical conditions that cause hyperpigmentation are:
Age or liver spots - from excessive sun damage. Usually found on the hands and faces where people are mostly exposed to the sun.
Melasma or chloasma spots are similar in appearance to age spots but are larger areas of darkened skin
that appear most often as a result of hormonal changes. Pregnancy, for example, can trigger overproduction of melanin that causes the "mask of pregnancy" on the face and darkened skin on the abdomen and other areas. Women who take birth control pills may also develop hyperpigmentation because their bodies undergo similar kind of hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. If one is really bothered by the pigment, the birth control pills should be stopped.
Changes in skin color can result from outside causes. For example, skin diseases such as acne may leave dark spots after the condition clears. Other causes of dark spots are injuries to the skin, including some surgeries. Freckles are small brown spots that can appear anywhere on the body, but are most common on the face and arms. Freckles are an inherited characteristic.
Freckles, age spots, and other darkened skin patches can become darker or more pronounced when skin is exposed to the sun. This happens because melanin absorbs the energy of the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays in order to protect he skin from overexposure. The usual result of this process is skin tanning, which tends to darken areas that are already hyperpigmented. Wearing a sunscreen is a must. The sunscreen must be "broad spectrum" (i.e. it blocks both UVA and UVB). A single day of excess sun can undo months of treatment.
Most prescription creams used to lighten the skin contain hydroquinone. Bleaches lighten and fade darkened skin patches by slowing the production of melanin so those dark spots gradually fade to match normal skin coloration. Prescription bleaches contain twice the amount of hydroquinone, the active ingredient, as over-the-counter skin bleaches. In more severe cases prescription creams with tretinoin and a cortisone cream may be used. These may be somewhat irritating to sensitive skin and will take 3-6 months to produce improvement.
There are now several highly effective laser treatments
. The q-switched ruby and other pigmented lesion lasers often remove pigment without scarring. A test spot in an inconspicuous place will need to be done as they sometimes make things worse instead of better.
Do you suffer from hyperpigmentation and need assistance with treatment? Call The Spa at Spring Ridge today at for more information about your options.