HYPER-PIGMENTATION AND MELASMA: THE FACTS ABOUT EFFECTIVE TREATMENT AND REDUCTION
Skin discolouration is a very common issue, and is more common in women compared to men with Fitzpatrick Skin Types 3 and 4. The pigmentation is due to overproduction of melanin by pigment cells in the skin's dermis called melanocytes. You are more likely to experience hyper-pigmentation or melasma if somebody in your family has it, although certain lifestyle and physiological factors can contribute to its appearance.
This is a type of hyper-pigmentation, most often occurring across the mid-face in a butterfly-shaped patch, due to hormonal changes seen in life phases such as pregnancy and adolescence. Melasma is often temporary, and can be worsened by sun exposure.
Depending on the cause, this can occur on the face alone, or appear more widespread. If localised to the face, it is most likely to be caused by exposing the skin to sunlight over many years without enough protection. The widespread form is more likely to be caused by a dietary deficiency, certain medications or disease, so it is important to see a derm specialist if you have dark patches on your body.
It's true that prevention is cure - using a daily sunscreen all through the year will protect from worsening and spread of discolouration. Skincare containing exfoliating agents help to gently lighten and brighten skin when used regularly over time. Retinol is a highly effective option, as are Salicylic and Lactic Acid.
Intense Pulsed Light Therapy (IPL)
Uses a broad spectrum of light to break down the pigment into smaller particles, before rising up to the surface of the skin to flake away as part of the body’s natural healing process. A course of 3 to 6 is required to achieve the best outcome.
Can be used to freeze smaller areas of discolouration such as Sun spots, (or solar lentigines), with liquid nitrogen. This restricts the melanin cells in the treated area, stopping them from growing, darkening and spreading. Learn more about Cryotherapy.
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