What is pigmentation of the skin?
The colour of your skin and hair is determined by the amount of melanin, which is naturally produced by pigment cells (melanocytes) at the base of the epidermis. Hyperpigmentation is where patches of skin become darker in color than the surrounding skin. Hypopigmentation is where there is a loss of skin colour in patches of the skin. Melasma is a patchy brown discoloration that occurs on sun-exposed areas of the face in darker skin types. It affects the deeper layer of skin (the dermis), and can be difficult to treat. Vitiligo is a condition where patches of skin appear white due to loss of pigmentation. Melasma and vitiligo are conditions which should be diagnosed and treated by a Dermatologist. Uneven pigmentation of the skin can respond to aesthetic treatments.
What are the Symptoms of skin pigmentation issues?
Pigmentation issues are identified by either variation or uneven pigmentation of the skin, darker patches of pigmentation in the skin, lighter patches of pigmentation in the skin, or an absence of pigmentation in the skin. These can be localised (in one particular part of the face or body) or generalised (all over the face and body).
What are the Causes of skin pigmentation issues?
It is natural for us to have uneven pigmentation in our skin and this can be exacerbated by sun exposure.
Hormonal effects of oestrogen during pregnancy, or due to the contraceptive pill can cause melasma leading to pigmentation of nipples, vulva and abdomen (linea nigra).
Some skin diseases and conditions can also result in different types of pigmentation.
What treatment is available for skin pigmentation issues?
Where there is an absence of pigmentation in the skin, or the pigmentation issues are widespread or severe you should see a Dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis and medical treatment.
Aesthetic treatments can be effective in evening out and addressing minor pigmentation issues.
1. Personalised skincare regime. A personalised skincare regime which includes medical-grade skincare products can help even out pigmentation of the skin. This may include prescription medications such as topical tretinoin and hydroquinone. The Obagi Nu-derm system is an effective 12 week program for addressing pigmentation issues. Prevention is better than cure and so any skincare regime will include daily use of a sunblock (minimum of SPF50+).
2. Chemical Peels: A chemical peel containing salicylic acid and glycolic acid can significantly improve the skin’s appearance. When used with topical therapies this can be very effective, especially to treat conditions in darker skin individuals such as melasma. The Obagi Blue Peel Radiance Chemical Peel is a non-invasive, gentle chemical facial peel that uses a combination of salicylic, lactic and glycolic acids to improve skin’s appearance without any recovery time.
3. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Laser therapy: Laser treatment can be effective used on its own or in conjunction with chemical peels and a personalised skin care regime to even out pigmentation and reduce darker patches of pigmentation in the skin (such as age spots).