Do you have patches of skin that are darker than the surrounding areas? If so, you have skin pigmentation or hyperpigmentation. Pigmentation is also referred to as dark spots and usually appears on the face, neck, and hands and other body parts frequently exposed to the sun.
What is pigmentation?
Pigmentation (also known as hyperpigmentation) occurs when there is an increase of melanin or color pigment in the skin. It appears as flat and darkened spots that vary in size, shape, and color. Hyperpigmentation can affect both men and women of all ages and skin color.
Those with darker skin tones, however, are more prone to hyperpigmentation changes than people with lighter skin tone. This is because pigmentation is much stronger in dark skin, particularly with excess sun exposure.
Pigmentation is a common condition that is usually harmless. It also takes in different forms and types, such as:
- Age spots – Also known as sunspots or liver spots, age spots are small, darkened patches that commonly occur on the face and hands, and body areas regularly exposed to the sun.
- Melasma – This skin condition usually presents as larger patches of gray or dark colored skin. Hormonal fluctuations (like in pregnancy or as a side effect of taking birth control pills) can trigger melasma. It usually occurs on the face and is more common in women than men.
- Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) – This occurs after some type of injury or trauma to the skin such as acne, burns, psoriasis, and skin lesions. Aggressive or traumatic skin care treatments may also result in PIH.
- Freckles – These small, brown patches commonly occur on the face, chest, and arms. Their color may vary from red to tan to light brown. Freckles may be inherited and can become darker or more pronounced when exposed in the sun.
What causes pigmentation?
An increase in melanin production is the primary cause of hyperpigmentation. Melanin refers to the natural pigment that gives the skin, hair, and eyes their color. There are a number of factors that can trigger increased melanin production. These include:
- Sun exposure – Ultraviolet or UV rays trigger melanin production. Prolonged and unprotected sun exposure can also make dark spots and other types of pigmentation darker.
- Skin trauma or injuries – Acne, eczema, and psoriasis, as well as skin injuries like cuts and burns can cause skin discoloration even after the wound or inflammation has healed.
- Hormonal changes – These cause or trigger melasma, a type of pigmentation that is common in women. This is said to occur when certain hormones stimulate melanin production, particularly when the skin is exposed to the sun. Hormone treatments can also cause pigmentation.
- Certain medications and illnesses – Antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, and anti-seizure medications can also trigger hyperpigmentation. The same is also true for metabolic disorders and autoimmune diseases.
How can we help?
Pigmentation can make your skin look uneven, dull, and tired. We at Cutis Laser Clinics are here to help. We provide a number of medical aesthetic treatments that can fade or lighten your dark spots. We have non-invasive skin procedures that can reduce or eliminate different types of pigmentation such as age spots, freckles, melasma, and PIH.
Your individualized treatment plan, depending on various factors such as your acceptable social downtime, your expected time frame and budget, will be explained in detail during your consultation with our Harvard trained Medical Director, Dr. Sylvia Ramirez.