What is Hyperpigmentation?
Although thought to be a harmless skin condition (in most cases), hyperpigmentation can cause spots on the skin to become darker than the rest of the body. This occurs when melanin (the pigment that normally produces skin color) forms in excess on the skin. Hyperpigmentation can occur for many different reasons. If you have been dealing with dark spots for a while now, or it seems hyperpigmentation appeared overnight, one thing is for sure. Although it can be treated, it will take serious commitment and patience to get rid of hyperpigmentation.
Sun Exposure and Heat
Summertime is the worst season for those prone to hyperpigmentation. The sun triggers melanin production in the skin (tanning, anyone?) and some may experience brown spots. This is why freckles may appear darker and more prominent than they do during other seasons. At home treatments and visits to your esthetician or dermatologist will help fight the hyperpigmentation, but every summer it will reappear.
Heat is another big cause of hyperpigmentation. Heat from the summer months or an intense workout causes inflammation in the body, which then triggers melanin production.
To cool down, you can apply a cold gel mask or an ice pack to the skin for 10-15 minutes. This will help prevent hyperpigmentation due to heat.
Picking at the Skin and Skin Injuries
This type of hyperpigmentation is sneaky because it may not show up on your skin until years after the incident occurred. This means that if you stopped picking at your skin 5 years ago, you may wake up one morning finding a dark spot in a previously picked area! This is considered post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. If you are a skin picker, there is never a better time to stop than now.
Have you been dealing with any of the signs of over-exfoliation? Be careful! Not only can it lead to short-term skin problems, but this inflammation can also cause hyperpigmentation.
It’s important to exfoliate when trying to lighten the skin, but too much can cause even more brown spots. This goes for any and all types of exfoliation including scrubs and chemical peels.
Some women may have the unfortunate luck of experiencing melasma or ‘pregnancy mask’ during pregnancy. This is due to an increase in hormonal activity in the body. Although many will find melasma slowly fades after birth, some are not as fortunate.
It’s important to start tackling the hyperpigmentation during pregnancy and continue after birth due to the fact that it takes time to fade hyperpigmentation. Post-birth is when you will see the most results, but starting beforehand will only move you further along in the removal process.
Birth Control Pills
If you are prone to hyperpigmentation, you may experience it while taking birth control pills. It’s worth trying to treat it, but you may find that until you stop taking birth control pills the problem persists. This is due to hormonal activity in the body. If it is a big concern for you, talk with your doctor about your options.
Hormones From Aging and Medications
You may experience hyperpigmentation as you reach your 40s and beyond. This is due to aging and hormonal changes in the body.
Medications can also be a cause of hyperpigmentation. If a medication you are taking has this side effect, talk with your doctor about your options if this is a concern for you.
Home Remedies for Hyperpigmentation
There is an abundance of online home remedies claiming to reverse hyperpigmentation. However, a lot of these home remedies for hyperpigmentation should not be used on your skin. If your goal is to get rid of hyperpigmentation, always take caution before using a DIY recipe.
Of course, various ingredients do prove to be valuable for your skin, but you have to know which. The use of pure essential oils, for example, can make a positive impact on your skin health.
Get Rid of Hyperpigmentation With These Natural Ingredients
Considered to be a natural skin lightener, licorice root works to stop melanin-producing enzymes while preventing future dark spots. There are numerous licorice extracts that are derived from licorice root, but liquiritin is the most effective in treating hyperpigmentation.
Fun Fact: The use of liquiritin (at 20%) applied for 4 weeks at 1g a day is effective in treating melasma.
Kojic acid is considered to be a controversial natural ingredient. This is because of its ability to cause sensitivity as well as possible allergic reactions in some users.
However, its ability to lighten the skin is comparable to hydroquinone. It is among the most potent natural ingredients that lighten the skin. It is another lightener that works to stop the melanin-producing enzyme, tyrosinase.
Kojic acid is also good for treating acne scars.
Arbutin (Such as bearberry, cranberry, and blueberry)
Arbutin is considered to be the best alternative to hydroquinone. This is because of its ability to not only inhibit the production of melanin but to slowly release hydroquinone. Arbutin carries sugar groups within which enzymes from our bodies feed off of to slowly release the hydroquinone.
While arbutin is a safe natural alternative to use as a skin lightener, be cautious as it can cause an allergic reaction in some people. The most potent form is a-arbutin.
Concentrations of 3% are effective in lightening the skin.
Ellagic Acid (strawberry, pomegranates, and cherries)
Studies have shown that ellagic acid is a more potent ingredient in treating hyperpigmentation than both kojic acid and arbutin. Given that both of those components are very effective, this says a lot about the strength of the ellagic acid.
Ellagic acid works as an antioxidant as well as a tyrosinase inhibitor.
Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate
A form of vitamin C, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate has been found to be one of the best melanin suppressors available.
Is Hyperpigmentation Permanent?
It is important to keep in mind that the longer you have had hyperpigmentation, the longer it will take to fade it. For those who are prone to hyperpigmentation, it may come back during the summer months or when you are overheated.
It is never a guarantee that it will be completely gone or that it won’t come back again. But there are things you can do to try and keep it under control.
How to Treat Hyperpigmentation
If you are looking for the best hyperpigmentation treatment, there are a few different treatments a professional may perform on you to treat your skin concerns. Among these treatments are a series of corrective chemical peels you may go through, laser resurfacing, and IPL (Intense Pulsed Light Therapy).
Find an esthetician or dermatologist to see what treatments they can offer you.
Some things you need to do at home include exfoliating to remove the pigmented cells, use a skin lightener (as recommended by a professional), and be very gentle with your skin as much as possible. You don’t want to do anything to irritate the skin while trying to get rid of hyperpigmentation.
Have patience as fading pigmentation is not an overnight process. Follow your esthetician’s advice, keep up with your skin care routine, and you will be on your way to lighter, less pigmented skin.
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