Pigmentation refers to the discolouration of patches of the skin. This may be hyperpigmentation (the darkening of patches of the skin) or depigmentation (the lightening of patches of the skin) There are different types of pigmentation, but all are caused by changes in the amount of melanin produced by your skin.
There are three main types of pigmentation:
Often brown-ish in colour, these are patches of discolouration that typically appear on the face. 90% of melasma cases are found in women.
Also known as liver spots, these are patches of hyperpigmentation that appear on areas regularly exposed to the sun, such as the hands, chest or face.
This is the result of healing of previous inflammation to the skin. Acne is one of the main causes of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Though usually harmless, pigmentation spots can be the result of an underlying health condition, so it’s always worth getting them checked out by a professional.
What Causes Pigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is caused by increased amounts of melanin produced by the skin, and can affect all skin types and ages.
Melasma is generally caused by hormonal changes or imbalances. Pregnancy is a particularly common time for melasma to develop. However, hormonal medication, menopause or other times of hormonal change can also cause melasma to form.
Sunspots (known as liver spots or age spots) are, as the name would indicate, an example of sun-induced hyperpigmentation. UV rays from sun exposure speed up the production of melanin, resulting in ‘clumped’ patches of pigmentation. This can be prevented by reducing time spent in the sun, wearing SPF daily and avoiding commercial tanning beds.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is caused by skin injury, such as acne, cuts or rashes. This is because inflammation can trigger melanocytes – the melanin-producing cells – to release excessive pigmentation during the healing process
The best way to treat pigmentation is to prevent its formation in the first place. Avoiding exposure to the sun, wearing an effective SPF everyday and avoiding picking or inflaming skin are all effective ways of doing this. At-home treatments for fading pigmentation include lightening products such as azelaic acid, vitamin C and retinoids.
However, professional treatments are the most effective way of reducing or fading hyperpigmentation. These include skin resurfacing treatments such as laser resurfacing, microneedling and chemical peel; all of which use potent next-gen technology to promote regeneration in the skin, fading pigmentation in the process. Morpheus8 is another effective treatment; as this penetrates the skin’s surface to stimulate collagen production and reduce the appearance of pigmentation. IV drips can also be an effective treatment, brightening skin and reducing uneven skin tone.