Many forms of hyperpigmentation are caused by an excess production of melanin. Hyperpigmentation can be diffuse or focal, affecting such areas as the face and the back of the hands. Melanin is produced by melanocytes at the lower layer of the epidermis. Melanin is a class of pigment responsible for producing color in the body in places such as the eyes, skin, and hair. As the body ages, melanocyte distribution becomes less diffuse and its regulation less controlled by the body. UV light stimulates melanocyte activity, and where concentrations of the cells are denser than surrounding areas, hyperpigmentation is affected. Hyperpigmentation can affect any part of the body including the face, hands and neck. Although it can affect anyone- regardless of their race- this condition is more prevalent among certain ethnicities such as Asian, Mediterranean, African or Latin. The following are examples of hyperpigmentation: lentigo/lentigenes, pregnancy-induced melasma, stain, nevus, a tan, freckles, solar lentigos (i.e. sun spots, age spots) and under-eye dark circles. Another form of hyperpigmentation is post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. These are dark and discolored spots that appear on your skin following acne that has healed.
Treatment of hyperpigmentation may include hydroquinone, kojic acid, alpha hydroxy acids, azelaic acid, ascorbic acid, tretinoin (Retinol), and licorice extract. To help prevent these dark spots, sunscreen must be applied daily. An additional preventative and curative tool for treating hyperpigmentation is the daily use of vitamin C and ferulic acid. Our favorite is Skinceutical’s CE Ferulic. Use this product daily with a sunscreen appropriate for your skin type. In addition to the above-mentioned, at-home solutions, there are in-office treatments that can, with time, even out discoloration while improving the overall functionality and health of the skin. Light AHA peels, light to medium strength TCA Peels, and laser are excellent options. Lightening discoloration will not happen overnight, but with consistency and a little patience even darker tones can see considerable transformation over time.