We will be discussing:
1. The mechanism of Hyperpigmentation
2. The causes of skin pigmentation on the face
3. How to recognise the cause
4. How to treat different forms of Hyperpigmentation on the face
Mechanism of Hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation occurs when any type of inflammation excites the melanocytes (melanin producing cells).
Damage and inflammation can occur from different sources e.g. sun damage, pregnancy, puberty, acne, post laser treatment, glycolic acid burn, and medication that causes photo sensitivity or a physical injury.
(1) SUN DAMAGE HYPERPIGMENTATION
– This typically gives you a butterfly shaped mask with hyperpigmentation on the cheek bones, nose and forehead.
– This can either be in the form of small spots or in larger patches that amalgamate.
– The colour can vary from light brown to dark brown.
– This usually gets worse over a period of 3-10 years and tends to darken more in the summer as UV rays excite the cells producing melanin.
– This Hyperpigmentation will only come back again if the new skin cells are not protected with high SPF Sun block.
(2) POST ACNE HYPERPIGMENTATION
– The distribution of post acne hyperpigmentation are small- medium sized dark brown or black marks.
– The pigmentation tends to be closer to the surface which means fewer treatments are required to eliminate it.
– The hyperpigmentation will only come back again if more acne appears.
(3) POST LASER, GLYCOLIC or TCA BURN HYPERPIGMENTATION
– The pigmentation here tends to be more diffuse with multiple patches where the skin was burned.
– This form of pigmentation takes longer to treat as the burn tends to go deep into the skin’s dermis.
(4) POST PREGNANCY HYPERPIGMENTATION
– This pigmentation tends to form on the cheeks, nose and forehead anytime within 5 years of pregnancy.
– The pigmentation that forms during or immediately after pregnancy tends to fade within a year. If this has not faded then it is better to get it treated so it does not become compounded by UV damage and darken the already hyperpigmented area.
(5) POST PUBERTY HYPERPIGMENTATION
– This tends to occur around the mouth area, in the mid teenage years.
– It tends to be more diffuse with no clear margin and is deeper in the skin.
(6) POLYCYSTIC OVARY HYPERPIGMENTATION
– This occurs around the chin and jaw line area.
– It is accompanied with thick hair and acne in this area.
– Ideally control the hormones first with your General Practitioner’s assistance, then seek hyperpigmentation treatment.