Problem skin 101: Hyperpigmentation

As a skincare condition that affects many, here’s everything you need to know about hyperpigmentation. Its causes, how to prevent it, and how to treat it. hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation caused by acne

What is hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is simply when skin appears darker. You may not like looking at the discolouration but it’s harmless and occurs naturally. It affects all skin types but seems to be common in darker skin tones.

What causes Hyperpigmentation?

Darker patches of skin usually occur because of excess melanin production, a pigment that gives skin its colour. It’s produced by skin cells called melanocytes. Hyperpigmentation can also be caused by acne scars and sun damage or hormone imbalance.

How to Prevent Hyperpigmentation

Not in all cases but sometimes taking a few preventative steps can help you stop hyperpigmentation before it forms. For instance,

  • using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30
  • wearing hats or clothing that block sunlight
  • avoiding the sun during the time of the day when it’s strongest

How to treat hyperpigmentation

Depending on the cause, treatments for hyperpigmentation can vary. For instance, darkness caused by hormones because you’re pregnant or are on medication can be reversed after pregnancy or when you stop taking that particular medication.

However other forms of hyperpigmentation caused by the sun, scars from skin trauma such as burns, cuts and bruises, or blackheads and acne scars can be treated by sustaining a consistent skincare routine including:

Exfoliate and moisturise regularly

Regular exfoliation will get rid of dead skin cells and reveal healthy new skin cells . Moisturising also hydrates skin and improves cell turnover. It may take time but this will help reduce dark patches while keeping your skin healthy.

Use sunscreen

Regardless of whether you have hyperpigmentation or not, dermatologists advise that we all wear broad-spectrum sun protection. So between SPF 30 and SPF 50 to protect ourselves against the sun’s harmful rays and blue light. This advice is particularly important if you have hyperpigmentation. Sunscreen is the single most important factor in improving sun caused hyperpigmentation.

See a dermatologist

If all fails, get specialist help for extreme hyperpigmentation. They can prescribe a retinoid or lighting cream which can take a few months to lighten darkened areas.

Dermatologists can also take more aggressive steps to banish discoloration, such as chemical peels, microdermabrasion, or dermabrasion, or a laser or a light-based procedure.

Bottom line, we all get hyperpigmentation at one point or the other so having a consistent skincare routine that involves exfoliating, using brightening creams with Vitamin C, and keeping skin hydrated will stop hyperpigmentation in its tracks before it becomes a full-blown crisis.

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