Hyperpigmentation is a common skin condition affecting people of all skin types. Hyperpigmentation is an umbrella term to describe any circumstance where a patch of skin is darker than the surrounding skin in the same area. Hyperpigmentation tends to affect people with darker skin more frequently because skin with more pigment produces more melanin.
There are many causes of hyperpigmentation, and sun exposure is the biggest culprit. Other contributing factors include genetics, hormonal changes, and trauma or inflammation, referred to as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
How Do I Prevent Hyperpigmentation?
Preventing hyperpigmentation requires daily action. Protect your skin by wearing sunscreen daily and practicing sun safety. Unfortunately, your favorite make-up foundation is not sufficient enough to protect your skin. Look for a physical blocking sunscreen, preferably with zinc oxide and at least SPF 30. We recommend ISDIN Eryfotona Ageless SPF 50. This lightly tinted mineral sunscreen contains zinc oxide and blends beautifully into deeply pigmented skin. We also recommend wearing sun protective clothing and hats for further protection.
Also, HANDS OFF! While it may be tempting to pick and pop blemishes, this trauma to the skin create the perfect conditions for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
How Do I Treat Hyperpigmentation?
Hydroquinone, a topical skin lightener, is the gold standard for treating hyperpigmentation. Hydroquinone must be prescribed by a qualified healthcare professional and is not safe to use during pregnancy or while breast feeding. It is highly effective for spot treating areas. However, hydroquinone is not indicated for long-term use. Other non-hydroquinone lightening agents to treat hyperpigmentation include azelaic acid, kojic acid, and cysteamine and are safe to use during pregnancy. These lightening agents are a great alternative to hydroquinone. We recommend DLC Skin Brightening Pads and Cyspera Intensive Pigment Corrector. Often, a combination of topical products is most effective for treating hyperpigmentation.
Chemical peels and laser treatments are a great option to achieve faster results. We recommend the Skin Medica Vitalize Peel to even out skin tone and target hyperpigmentation. It is safe for all skin types, including deeply pigmented skin.
Regardless of treatment options, it is essential to be diligent with daily use of sunscreen (and reapplication) to prevent and protect your skin from developing hyperpigmentation. After we perform chemical peels and/or laser treatments, minimizing sun exposure is much more critical to maintain these results.
Treatment for hyperpigmentation takes time, patience, and commitment. Improvement of hyperpigmentation may take several months or even years. At DLC of Chapel Hill, our team is highly experienced in treating skin of color and will help you find the best treatment for your skin.