Pigmentation simply means the color of the skin. Pigmentation (also known as Hyper-pigmentation) is seen as darker patches of skin with uneven color that does not match with the rest of the surrounding skin.
Pigmentation is mainly caused when the melanin-creating cells are excessively produced by the body, either due to damage or another health disorder.
Types of Pigmentation
These are the common types of pigmentation (hyper-pigmentation):
Sun spots/brown spots/sun damage – These are seen as large patches of uneven skin tone, mostly seen as dark brown or tan patches on the hands, face, shoulders, etc. These are caused by the excessive and prolonged exposure to sunlight over a period of years. It is mostly noticed in the lower layers of the skin before being seen on the outermost skin layer. This is also one of the easiest to treat.
Melasma – This is mostly seen in the form of grey-brown, brown and tan patches of skin mostly on the face. This is identified as this developed in a symmetrical pattern, whether on the cheeks, nose or the forehead. This is a common skin disorder which mostly affects women with dark skin colors.
Age spots/Lentigo – This pigmentation is seen mostly as a raised or flat lesion which becomes more noticeable with age. These are found to be caused due to sun damage.
Freckles – These are very small and thin patches of melanin-excess skin. These are most common and are found in adults as well as infants. Although these can be found all over the body and are completely harmless, they do tend to look unwanted when present in excessive quantities on the more visible parts of the body, especially on people with a lighter skin color.
Causes of Pigmentation
There are various factors for pigmentation to develop, such as:
- Sun damage – Extended exposure to direct sunlight with inadequate UV ray protection results in the activation of melanocytes (melanin cells) in the skin.
- Hormones – Melasma is the most common hormonal pigmentation type.
- Genes – Some types of pigmentation are also caused due to genetic predisposition towards them.
- Injury – This is also known as PIH (Post-Inflammatory Hyper-pigmentation) and is caused due to an injury or swelling of the skin when exposed to sunlight for long. This is usually a mild form of hyper-pigmentation and the patches normally fade within 18 months.
Treatment for Pigmentation
In case the pigmentation is caused by a hormonal therapy, especially during pregnancy or while using oral contraceptives, then these tend to fade away by the end of the pregnancy and when you stop using the oral birth control pills.
However, if the pigmentation is caused by any other factors there are various methods of treatment for it, such as:
These contain hydroquinone which helps to even the skin tone. . Although these may show noticeable results after around two months of use they are highly effective in treating mild cases of pigmentation.
This treatment is also known as ‘skin peel’ treatment or micro-dermabrasion as well. This is performed successfully by an experienced cosmetic surgeon or a well-trained dermatologist.
This treatment for pigmentation is mostly required when there is extensive area of uneven pigmentation on the skin. An experienced dermatologist or a cosmetic surgeon will use a precise beam of powerful laser to deactivate the pigmentation in the darker patches of skin by destroying excessive melanocytes.
It is important to wear sufficient sun-protection once you are treated for hyper-pigmentation so as to improve the results as well as prevent the skin disorder from arising in the future.
It is important to get advice and treatment from an experienced and well-trained cosmetic surgeon or a dermatologist in order to ensure higher success rate for your pigmentation treatment.