Your skin is the largest organ your body has, and it’s responsible for a lot of amazing things you probably don’t even think about.
The epidermis, or the outermost part of your skin, acts as a barrier from things like UV rays, parasites, fungus, and bacteria. Over time, a combination of factors can create changes in your epidermis and your skin color.
When you start to see darker shades of skin in small patches, you’re dealing with something known as hyperpigmentation.
If you live near Yuma, Tucson, or Tempe, Arizona, and you’re seeing skin discoloration, you can get help from our experienced team at Peach Skin and Laser. Our cutting-edge technology and medical expertise offers you the best tools to get your skin to look its best.
Let’s look at what hyperpigmentation is, what may cause you to get it, and how it can be treated.
Melanin is the name of the pigment in your skin that gives it color. Hyperpigmentation creates an overabundance of color in specific areas of your skin, depending on what’s causing the changes.
These darker patches of skin can be small or large or affect your whole body, but they are often harmless. The common types of hyperpigmentation include:
- Age spots: Also known as liver spots or sunspots, these appear as flat, dark areas on your face, hands, shoulders, and arms.
- Melasma: This is a term that means “black spot,” but you can expect to see brown or blue-gray freckles that will likely fade over a short period of time.
- Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation: When your skin gets inflamed (with acne, a rash, scrapes, etc.) and eventually heals, these are the spots that may get left behind.
Why you may have hyperpigmentation
The factors that contribute to these dark spots fall into a few different categories:
A common way for your skin to get dark spots is by direct exposure to the UV rays of the sun, which is a common cause of age spots. Skin irritants can also cause the rashes and inflammation that may be associated with ance, which can leave dark spots behind once healed.
Pregnancy can affect melanin production and create dark spots. A condition called Addison’s disease can also affect hormone production in your adrenal glands, and other hormonal conditions can create increased melanin synthesis.
Several different drugs can cause hyperpigmentation, including antimalarial drugs, cytotoxic medications, tetracyclines, psychotropic drugs, and anti-inflammatory drugs. This can also be a side effect from some chemotherapy drugs.
How hyperpigmentation can be treated
Treatments for hyperpigmentation can vary depending on the amount of area covered and the cause. Topical creams are available, such as hydroquinone and topical retinoids, but they may take a few months to lighten the dark spots. Some over-the-counter variations are also available with weaker concentrations of hydroquinone.
Avoid direct sunlight during peak hours. For exposed areas of skin during the day, sunscreen can reduce hyperpigmentation.
You should use one with zinc oxide or an SPF between 30 and 50, or a broad-spectrum sunscreen for best results. With melasma, where visible light may be perpetuating the problem, SPF-infused clothing may be the best option.
If you’re unhappy with how the dark spots make your skin look, and you want to see them disappear, contact Peach Skin & Laser today to find out how we can help.