Some forms of skin discoloration are entirely normal, such as freckles or birthmarks. Unwanted discoloration and dark spots that develop over time are another story. Skin discoloration or hyperpigmentation can develop over time due to a variety of factors, from sun exposure to aging. Generally, it is harmless, and more of a cosmetic issue where patches of your skin may become darker than others.
It’s helpful to understand the causes of skin pigmentation and what you can do to prevent it. If you currently have hyperpigmentation, there are many ways that you can treat it, to lessen the severity of it.
What causes skin discoloration?
The causes of skin discoloration can be anything from lifestyle choices to hormonal changes or just simply getting older. It is common for those who suffer from severe acne to be left with dark spots after the acne clears up. The same goes for those who sustain injuries on their skin and are left with a different pigment afterward. Both cases are a result of trauma to the skin.
Another common form of skin discoloration is liver spots, also called age spots. These are the spots that occur due to long-term sun damage and typically appear as small, dark patches.
Hormones may also play a role in hyperpigmentation — known as melasma. Melasma looks similar to age spots, except the areas are more significant. The name comes from the cause of the pigmentation, which is an overproduction of melanin. Women are most prone to melasma when there are significant fluctuations in hormones, such as when they are pregnant. Birth control pills can also trigger melasma.
How can you prevent skin discoloration?
Regardless of why you may have skin discoloration, exposure to the sun will only worsen the condition. The most effective step in the prevention of hyperpigmentation is to protect yourself from the sun. Use high SPF sunscreen whenever you are out in the sun, and wear hats to protect your face. For prolonged days outdoors, try to sit in the shade or wear a lightweight covering to provide a protective layer.
How can you treat skin discoloration?
The good news is there are many effective treatments available that can help you lessen your skin discoloration severity. Always see a qualified Cosmetic Dermatologist New York for proper assessment and treatment of your hyperpigmentation. Here are a few available treatment options:
1. Chemical peel
A chemical peel is a chemical agent that the dermatologist will apply to the skin, causing the top layer of your epidermis to shed. Much of your skin discoloration is in the top layers of your skin, so removing it will leave behind fresh, even skin. Chemical peels are best for those who have mild discoloration, which isn’t deep-set.
2. Laser treatment
An IPL or Fraxel laser treatment is an excellent option for deeper skin pigmentation, requiring a more advanced approach. The IPL laser will target the dark spots and blast them with energy, which will shatter the pigment and cause it to disperse. Alternatively, the Fraxel will produce shallow wounds in the epidermis, which stimulates skin renewal and resurfacing. Once healed, the pigmentation is less pronounced.
3. Topical creams
Topical prescription creams are available, which can help lighten the pigmented areas of your skin. Many contain hydroquinone, which slows the production of melanin, allowing spots to fade over time.