Native skin pigmentation is due to the presence of “normal” amounts of melanin in the skin, normality being determined largely by ethnicity. Hyperpigmentation is due to the presence of increased amount of melanin in the skin.
Excessive exposure to the sun is often unavoidable, especially if one lives an active outdoor lifestyle taking part in sports and other activities. The common pigmentation problems in the skin are freckles, solar lentigines (sun spots), seborrhoeic keratoses (age spots), Hori’s nevus, melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Causes of Skin Pigmentation
|Solar lentigines||Exposure to the sun and age|
|Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation||Inflammation of the skin in susceptible individuals|
There are a number of treatments to get rid of unsightly pigmentation in conditions like freckles or dark pimple scars. For example, prescription creams containing active ingredients like hydroquinone, tretinoin, glycolic acid, and salicylic acid, may be administered to lighten skin pigmentation.
Chemical peeling with peeling agents such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid, Jessner’s solution, Trichloroacetic acid will also help to lighten skin tones.
Intense Pulsed Light technique is also an effective procedure for skin lightening, while laser therapy with pigment laser, or CO2 laser, will also benefit the patient.
Apart from these treatments, judicious avoidance of exposure to sunlight is also important. In addition, there should be some form of protection from direct exposure to the sun, with clothing, a hat, and a good quality sunscreen lotion applied directly to the skin.
Some patients question the long-term results of laser treatment for the removal of unwanted skin pigmentation. The effect varies with the type of pigmentation problem treated. The pigment laser can produce a lasting clearance of freckles but since it is genetically determined, freckles can reappear after intense sun-exposure. The pigment laser can eliminate sunspots completely but new ones will appear if there is continued direct exposure to the sun. On the other hand, it is difficult to clear melasma which has a tendency to relapse.
One should be aware that if sunning cannot be avoided, then skin darkening will happen. Prescription creams and lotions will help lighten skin tones only to a certain extent; the real solution is a combination of lifestyle changes, acceptable treatments and keeping healthy.