Skin Health: How to Prevent and Control Hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation is a skin disorder that results in dark spots or patches on the face or body, caused by too much melanin in the skin - the substance that imparts colour to your skin. This happens due to overactive cells called melanocytes, which stimulate the production of melanin. But the real questions is what gets those melanocytes to go on an overdrive? Mainly, the sun, which is why it is a rather common condition to us in India. Also hormones, as certain illnesses and medications can also trigger hyperpigmentation. Today, our panel of experts will help us understand hyperpigmenetaion in detail and also how makeup can help you hide your hyperpigmentation.
Dermatologist Dr Meghna Gupta of Delhi Skin Centre helps us in understanding hyperpigmentation in detiail:
Hyperpigmentation is a common condition wherein patches of skin become darker in colour than the surrounding skin due to excess of melanin synthesis, a pigment present in our skin cells.
How is it different from post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation? Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or PIH, is the medical term for discolouration of the skin that is sequelae of an inflammatory process or injury to the skin. It is a natural response to any inflammation on the skin be it chemical, mechanical, physical, allergic, frictional, infectious, surgical or therapeutic stress.
Causes of hyperpigmentation: There are multiple causes for hyperpigmentation like hereditary, hormonal issues, during pregnancy, prolonged sun exposure, post-acne or any injury i.e. post inflammatory, or harsh chemical based cosmetics.
Home care for hyperpigmentation:
- Avoid excessive sun exposure. Follow sun protection measures like carrying an umbrella, wearing full sleeves clothing or wearing broad brimmed hats.
- Wear broad spectrum sunscreen (both UVA & UVB protection) of at least SPF 30 to prevent excessive melanin synthesis.
- Use Vitamin C serum on a daily basis. It is a good anti-oxidant to fight this sun damage.
- Lightening creams containing licorice and kojic acid can be used.
- Creams containing AHAs like glycolic acid can be used for more uniform exfoliation.
- Home Microdermabrasion systems are also available in India now which help in skin renewal, making penetration of lightening creams better.
- Peptides are new generation molecules which are chains of amino acids and signal the skin cells to behave in a particular manner. Lightening agents containing peptides can be used for a longer duration without any side effects.
- Home based masks can be used if the skin is not oily or acne prone: Mix dried orange peels with curd, apply for 10 minutes and rinse off.
When should we contact a dermatologist for hyperpigmentation? In case of hormonal imbalances, post acne hyperpigmentation and the cases not responding to the simple measures mentioned above, one should contact a dermatologist.
Makeup artist Vidya Tikari tells us how to use make-up to hide pigmentation marks:
If you have hyperpigmentation - which occurs usually in a brown-grey undertone - you need to use a colour corrector foundation or concealer on the affected areas that is a deep orange-brown shade. So, apply this first on the affected areas, and then apply the foundation. If it still shows through, apply back on that area. Use a nice, light foundation - only in the areas of pigmentation, and make sure you thoroughly powder over that. Avoid too much powder all over the face – just be thorough over the problem areas – otherwise your makeup will end up looking cakey.
Remember, India is sunshine country, which makes many of us prone to pigmentation. So, don’t forget to wear sunscreen. Freckles and age spots can be prevented simply by using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Apply sunscreen all year round – yes, even when it’s cloudy. Sunscreen should also help in keeping existing hyperpigmentation from growing darker.
Also, do use a primer. This liquid cosmetic is worn under makeup and helps target different skin problems. Primers also help your makeup sit more smoothly and the good quality ones come with SPF.
If you’ve had hyperpigmentation for more than six months, ask your dermatologist about a retinoid cream or skin lightener. The longer you ignore it, the tougher it’ll be to treat.
*Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images