While hyperpigmentation may be the overarching medical term for liver spots or “pregnancy mask,” we know this fancy name does not make these conditions any easier to handle. In fact, melasma, the clinical term for pregnancy mask might be worse than all those sleepless nights or trying to lose that stubborn baby weight. It is hormonally aggravated and difficult to treat, not to mention what it can do to a new mom’s self-esteem. Read on for helpful hints to rid yourself of unwanted hyperpigmentation.
What is Hyperpigmentation?
Any excess melanin, also known as pigment, that collects in the skin, whether it be on the face, hands or elsewhere on the body, is referred to as hyperpigmentation. A freckle is an example of focal hyperpigmentation while melasma is an example of diffused hyperpigmentation. Either condition is not generally harmful. Yet, there are a few specific health concerns that contribute to the diffused form such as vitamin deficiencies and Addison’s disease. More likely, sun exposure, aging, prescribed medications, scars, or cuts in the healing process are the sources.
However, know that there are some factors out of your control that predispose you to hyperpigmentation. A birthmark (also hyperpigmentation) is hereditary. Increased estrogen or fluctuating hormones can be the culprit, and so can birth control pills or cancer medications. Even acne can leave scars that promote skin darkening. You may not be able to prevent hyperpigmentation from happening, but you can understand it and get treatment.
Out, Darn Spot!
No matter the cause or condition underlying your personal experience with hyperpigmentation, we understand that when it comes to your face, no spot, regardless of size, is welcome, especially when it was not there before and has suddenly appeared seemingly out of nowhere. From liver spots to freckles sprinkled on your forehead, there is hope. All it takes is a little research about what treatment works best for you.
What are Hyperpigmentation Treatment Options?
Staying out of the sun, addressing skin infections, having a good skin care routine and eliminating medications can reduce hyperpigmentation, but they may not get rid of it.
Often, the first line of defense is a topical cream. Topical creams containing hydroquinone (a skin lightener), kojic acid (inhibits tyrosine formation and prevents melanin production) and other ingredients like vitamin C can work, but they are not without side effects. Some people experience rashes, stinging, dermatitis or even a worsening of symptoms. When these solutions fail, we know that people can become desperate to find another way.
Chemical Peels & Dermabrasion
If creams don’t work, another possible hyperpigmentation treatment method is chemical peels that use ingredients like glycolic or salicylic acid to coax exfoliation on the top layers of skin where the pigmentation is darkest. Certain skin types and colors are better suited for this treatment protocol. In rare instances, peels can lead to scarring.
An alternative to peels is dermabrasion to control hyperpigmentation. In this treatment (whether doing dermabrasion or microdermabrasion), the skin is being injured to encourage new skin growth and to stimulate the healing process. A 50% improvement in skin appearance is considered a satisfactory result, but we understand if it is not your idea of a winning solution. This method also comes with after-effects including redness, peeling, and pain that can occur for weeks or months before full recovery. You will also need to avoid all sun exposure to eliminate risk of further injury.
Intense Pulsed Light Therapy
What else can you do? The best treatment is often the most direct and simple. We prefer and recommend intense pulsed light therapy. This treatment uses lasers to direct bursts of light on your affected skin. This stimulates the body’s natural healing process, which results in lightening of the dark areas in less than 30 minutes. Plus, over time, the lightening process continues. The treatment is quick, painless, relaxing and effective. Affected areas will simply dry up and slough off like a healing sunburn. Light therapy is also customized for you specifically by measuring your melanin levels before the procedure.
What Can You Expect with Intense Pulsed Light Therapy?
If you choose this method, we will walk you through each step of the process to ensure a safe and comfortable experience. The treatment is usually only the length of a lunch break and will not require you to stay home or hide from people to recover. The device we use feels cool to your skin, and clients have actually told us they find it relaxing.
Enjoying the experience of your hyperpigmentation treatment should be part of the healing process, and with all the benefits of this noninvasive technique, we think it is the best approach. Contact us today to make an appointment.