Skin pigmentation disorders are conditions that cause the skin to appear lighter or darker than normal, or blotchy and discoloured. They include freckles, melasma, sun spots. Whether you are white or black, we all face skin pigmentation disorders. Skin pigmentation disorders occur because the body produces either too much or too little melanin. Melanin is a pigment found in our body which gives the color of our hair, skin and eye. Melanin protects our body by absorbing the ultraviolet light.
If the body does not produce enough melanin, we called it hypopigmentation. Conditions like Albinism (affects one out of every 17,000 people) is one of the examples. Therefore, people with albinism typically have light skin, white or pale yellow hair, and light blue or gray eyes.
In hyperpigmentation (eg. Melasma), the body produces too much melanin that caused the skin to be darker than usual, producing tan spots on the face. There are many causes that result to skin pigmentation e.g. exposure of sun, genetic issues, pregnancy, hormonal imbalance, contraceptive pills and aging, drug reactions or poor nutrition. Another common cause of pigmentation is “post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation” also known as “PIH”. This type of pigmentation develops due to some form of inflammation or irritation to the skin- such as acne, eczema, trauma. Melasma can be very deep, reaching the dermis layer (second layer of the skin). It may be more difficult to treat if it is too deep and you may require laser treatment to cure it.
Here are some treatments for pigmentation:
1) Apply Sunscreen – You have been hearing from people around you the importance of applying sunscreen. Not only it blocks the harmful rays to penetrate to your skin, it also protect your skin from the development and worsening of the pigmentation. If you just finished the lightening treatment, it is important for you to wear your sunscreen so that the pigmentation will not recur again.
2) Choose the right topical cream – Hydroquinone is a strong inhibitor of melanin production and it is the most effective ingredient for reducing and eliminating skin discolorations. Choose cream that contains hydroquinone.
3) Chemical peel – Chemical peels may also be used to lighten pigmentation. But beware, do not use the stronger level of chemical peel that is not suitable for your skin.