Type of pigmentation and How to treat them
Do you have pigmentation on your skin? Do you know what type of pigmentation do you have? Before you go into your local beauty store and go on a product shopping spree for pigmentation treatment, we recommend you first find out what type of pigmentation you’re dealing with. Different type of pigmentation may required different type of treatment, and not all pigmentation can be treated by over-the-counter products.
In this blog, we break down and explain the different pigmentation types, so you can have a better understanding of what’s going on with your skin and how to treat them.
What is skin pigmentation?
Skin pigmentation is a common, usually harmless condition in which patches of skin become darker in color than the normal surrounding skin. This darkening occurs when an excess of melanin, the brown pigment that produces normal skin color, forms deposits in the skin. There are different type of pigmentation, the most common are PIH (post inflammatory hyperpigmentation), freckles, sun/age spots, melasma and rosacea.
The Causes of Pigmentation
Pigmentation, or hyperpigmentation can happen due to different reasons. Some of the common causes include:
- sun damage due to prolonged sun exposure
- inflammation from skin issue such as acne or eczema
- hormonal changes due to medication or lifestyle
- Aging and so on
Type of Pigmentation
Freckles are the most common type of pigmentation. This main cause of freckles are sun damage, but it can also be due to genetics. Freckles start to develop after repeated and prolonged sun exposure, those with fairer complexion are more prone to freckles.
Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)
PIH, or Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation are often red, pink or dark spots occurred due to the result of acne, burns, friction or aggressive clinical treatments such as chemical peels, dermabrasion, laser and IPL. This type of pigmentation can improve with time and is normally treatable with topical skincare products.
Melasma appears on the face as larger tan or brown patches with an indistinct border. The causes of melasma is not widely known yet, but they are very likely triggered by hormonal changes. The condition of melasma may become worse due to prolonged sun exposure, certain medications, stress and pregnancy.
Rosacea are red patchy areas on the skin which can stays for weeks or months before it slowly fades away. The actual causes of Rosacea is still unknown. It can occur on the cheeks, chin, nose, or forehead. Mild rosacea can look like one is blushing but more severe stages are characterized by visible blood vessels, and an enlarged nose, chin, and oil glands.
Sun spots are also known as photoaging, age spots, liver spots, and solar lentigines. This is often results from many years of prolonged and repeated sun exposure. These dark spots may appear in when one is at late thirties or early forties.
How to treat skin pigmentation?
IMPORTANT: If you experience itchiness or feel uncomfortable on certain spots, or if your dark spots happens to be changing in size and shape, it is important to get them check up by your doctor before treating it with topical products. While pigmentation are generally an aesthetic concern rather than a medical issue, it is important that we do not confuse it with moles. We highly recommend you speak with your doctor in case the pigmentation has an underlying cause that should be attended to, such as possible skin cancer.
There are many treatments available for pigmentation, depending on the type and condition. The most popular and effective way to treat pigmentation are laser therapy and chemical peels.
If you’re not ready to go for the above treatments, some skin care products with certain ingredients can also help to minimize and prevent dark spots. The following are the ingredients you should add to your skincare routine in order to reduce pigmentation:
One of the most popular brightening ingredients, studies have shown that daily use of vitamin C can help prevent formation of dark spots and fades away PIH. Vitamin C contain antioxidants that fight free radicals to prevent hyperpigmentation. It is also known to stimulate collage production.
If use consistently and correctly, this ingredient can effectively prevent and minimize dark spot and fine lines.
Niacinamide is a form of Vitamin B3 that is well-known for its skin brightening and acne clearing effect. Studies have shown that this ingredient can help regulate sebum production and reduce inflammation. Therefore, it is great for those who has oily, acne-prone skin and also looking to improve hyperpigmentation spots, fine lines and wrinkles.
AHA (Alpha-Hydroxy Acids)
AHA can be found in many forms. The most common two forms you can find are glycolic and lactic acids, and they are less likely to cause irritation compared to other form of AHA. AHA is an exfoliating ingredient which is famous for its skin brightening effect, promote collagen and blood flow, correct discoloration from pigmentation and age spots, improve appearance of fine lines and prevent acne breakouts. It gently exfoliates the top layer of dead skin cells to reveal healthier, smoother skin that is free of hyperpigmentation.
LICORICE ROOT EXTRACT
Licorice root extract is a natural skin whitening ingredient due to its function in blocking melanin production. It improves existing hyperpigmentation while prevent future dark spots. Licorice Root Extract is also a powerful anti-inflammatory, which help reduce swelling or redness on your skin due to acne or eczema.
Arbutin is a natural derivative of hydropquinone. It has very similar effect to hydroquinone - one of the strongest brightening ingredient in the skin care world. However, the long-term use of hydroquinone may have side effects on the skin and it is heavily restricted in some countries. Therefore, most skincare contains Arbutin instead.
Arbutin is derived from berries and it provides almost the same powerful brightening effects as hydroquinone, without the concern for side effects. Arbutin is also gentle ingredient and less likely to cause skin irritation.
Your Lifestyle Matters, Prevention is Key
While there are many amazing skincare products that works well in preventing and improving pigmentation, your lifestyle can play an important role in reducing pigmentation as well. We recommend you opt for a healthy living which not only benefit your skin, but also your overall health.
No solution is better than prevention. Sun exposure is the main cause to most skin concern, including pigmentation. Therefore, you should ALWAYS wear sunscreen during the day, and always reapply your sunscreen every 3 – 4 hours. Do not go for prolonged sun exposure without any protection.