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What IS Hyper-pigmentation?

What IS Hyper-pigmentation?

Hyper-pigmentation is a common and usually harmless skin condition in which some areas of the skin become darker in colour than the surrounding skin.
It occurs when an excess of melanin is produced by melanocytes (the pigment cells) and then moved up toward the skin’s surface.

Hyper-pigmentation refers to any type darkening of the skin, caused by acne scars, freckles, prolonged exposure to UV and infrared rays, or can be discoloration caused by eczema or psoriasis.

Addressing stubborn hyper-pigmentation concerns is a time consuming process, it's important to keep in mind that there is no quick fix. Hyper-pigmentation needs time, patience and a daily treatment over several weeks.

Melasma, is a type of hyper-pigmentation that is primarily oestrogen driven, which is why it’s mostly prominent among women. It's commonly seen during pregnancy, when you’re taking birth control pills or hormone therapy. It’s also more prevalent among Indian women. Melasma can be further exacerbated by both exposure to sun and heat.

A key difference between hyper-pigmentation and melasma is their appearance. Hyper-pigmentation may manifest as random spots or patches anywhere on the face and neck, whereas melasma appears in blotchy but symmetrical patterns on the cheeks, bridge of the nose, forehead, chin and upper lip.

Hyper-pigmentation is affected by external factors, whereas melasma is affected by internal factors.

Treating hyper-pigmentation

While hyper-pigmentation can be treated via many over the counter products, it is essential that you look for products that contain an AHA or Vitamin C and E, which inhibit the production of melanin. Other useful ingredients to look out for are: 

  • Azelaic acid. ...
  • Mandelic acid. ...
  • Kojic acid. ...
  • Niacinamide. ...
  • Hydroquinone. ...
  • Retinoids. ...

Any products you choose should be labelled specifically as reducing hyper-pigmentation, age spots or skin brightening.

Products containing iron oxide can help by blocking visible light, minimising the damage caused to your skin.

The latest research also tells us that the sun is not the only enemy. Infrared rays are just as bad. Spending too much time in front of the computer, smartphone, hot kitchen and even the gym can cause a flare up.

Whichever product you choose, start gently and regularly, your skin will thank you for it.