Hyperpigmentation is a common skin concern that can appear from nowhere. One day, you look in the mirror and notice little dark patches on your forehead and cheeks.
This annoying skin discolouration usually develops after you’ve spent too much time outside enjoying the summer weather.
The bad news is that hyperpigmentation can last for months or years if untreated.
The good news is that there are many ways to get rid of dark spots, freckles, and sun-induced discolouration.
Keep reading to learn the causes of hyperpigmentation, how to prevent it from getting worse, and the best ways to treat it.
What Is Hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is a condition where areas of the skin become darker than the surrounding skin tone. This is due to the overproduction of the pigment melanin. The melanin forms deposits that appear as darker patches on the skin’s surface.
The most common cause of hyperpigmentation is sun exposure. The sun’s UV rays trigger the body to produce more melanin to protect the skin.
This is what causes the skin to tan. But it can also result in excess melanin deposits, causing hyperpigmentation or “sun spots”.
Hyperpigmentation can also be caused by skin trauma.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation occurs when the skin becomes inflamed due to a wound or skin conditions like eczema and acne. Dark spots and acne scars develop where the skin tissue has healed.
In some cases, hyperpigmentation can also result from melasma during pregnancy or as a side effect of certain medications.
How To Prevent Hyperpigmentation
The best way to prevent hyperpigmentation and stop it from getting worse is to protect your skin with a full spectrum sunscreen.
Even if you don’t plan to go outside in direct sunlight, applying an SPF30 in the morning is highly recommended.
Inflammation is the second biggest cause of hyperpigmentation. It’s important to avoid scratching insect bites or picking and squeezing spots and pimples.
The more inflammation, the higher the risk of developing hyperpigmentation and the worse the area will look later.
Does Hyperpigmentation Go Away on Its Own?
Hyperpigmentation can fade and go away on its own over time. However, depending on the cause and severity of the discolouration, it can take several years to see an improvement if the area is left untreated.
Dark patches are easier to remove and see faster improvement when treated quickly. Melanin deposits can grow larger and move deeper into the dermis over time.
Some types of hyperpigmentation will be permanent unless they are treated.
How To Treat Hyperpigmentation
There are several effective cosmetic treatments that can help get rid of skin discolouration.
To help you understand your options and what to expect, here’s our list of recommended hyperpigmentation removal treatments.
Topical creams and serums containing hydroquinone are usually the first steps for treating hyperpigmentation. This active ingredient reduces the production of melanin by inhibiting the enzyme tyrosinase.
You can expect to see some improvement around 10 weeks using a product like Simply Brilliant serum. The results will depend on the severity of the hyperpigmentation, how long it has been there, and how large the discoloured area is.
Your clinician may recommend hydroquinone as an at-home treatment or as part of a treatment plan that includes in-clinic cosmetic procedures.
Hydroquinone is usually well-tolerated, but it can cause side effects. Some people experience redness, dryness, and a burning sensation after applying the ingredient to the skin. As with all new skincare products, you should start with a small patch test to see how your skin reacts.
Chemical peels are one of the best ways to treat hyperpigmentation. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), glycolic acid, and TCA peels are generally the most effective for skin discolouration and sun-damaged skin.
These treatments work by removing the top layers of damaged and discoloured skin, revealing more even-toned new skin cells underneath.
The peel concentration can be tailored to your skin type and pigmentation, with higher strength peels offering faster results but also increased downtime.
A 2017 study showed that chemical peels provide “excellent cosmetic improvement” as a standalone hyperpigmentation treatment or combined with other skin therapies.
You may experience redness, tenderness, and flaking skin for a few days following a chemical peel. These are normal effects of the cell turnover process and show the treatment is working.
Chemical peels can also increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun. It’s important to avoid sun exposure for the first few days following treatment and protect your skin with sunscreen between sessions.
Laser Skin Treatments
Laser treatments can be a great way to tackle dark patches and discolouration. These treatments use laser energy to target and break up the melanin deposits in the skin.
IPL Skin Rejuvenation is one of the most popular laser treatments for hyperpigmentation as it is much gentler on the surrounding tissue. The laser energy is attracted to the darker melanin, breaking up the deposit so new even-toned skin can grow in its place.
IPL can also be effective for fine lines and wrinkles, spider veins, and a range of other skin concerns. You’ll notice an immediate improvement after a single session, but optimal results are achieved over a series of treatments.
In a 2016 medically reviewed study, 90% of patients reported they were satisfied with the improvement to their hyperpigmentation and the convenience of the procedure following a series of IPL treatments.
RevLite Laser Toning and fractional laser resurfacing may provide faster results if you have severe hyperpigmentation. However, these Laser Skin Rejuvenation treatments are often unsuitable for darker skin tones.
In some cases, a combination of laser therapies may provide the best outcomes. Your clinician will recommend a treatment plan based on an assessment of your skin during your free consultation at b clinic.
Microdermabrasion is a three-step exfoliation treatment that can help to reduce the appearance of pigmentation.
The treatment begins with an abrasive process. Your clinician will use a handpiece to direct accelerated refined crystals at the area of hyperpigmentation. The crystals blast away damaged and dead skin cells. You may experience a scratchy sensation but no pain.
Then, a vacuum suction nozzle is then used to remove the crystals and stimulate lymphatic drainage. During the final phase of treatment, a serum infusion is applied to treat the pigmentation.
The treatment takes around 30 minutes, and there is no downtime. You can expect to see an improvement over a series of treatments spaced four weeks apart.
Microdermabrasion can be effective as a standalone treatment for mild skin discolouration. For moderate pigmentation, microdermabrasion is often combined with other therapies.
DermaPen Skin Needling
DermaPen Skin Needling stimulates the body’s natural healing process to address hyperpigmentation. Your practitioner will use state-of-the-art skin needling technology to create micro-channels in the skin.
This stimulates the body’s natural healing process and resets melanin production. As the body floods the area with collagen and elastin, the skin is rejuvenated and appears smoother and more even-toned.
One of the key benefits of skin needling is that it allows topical treatments like vitamin C serums to penetrate the deeper layers of the skin and have a greater effect.
Vitamin C is an active ingredient with powerful antioxidant properties. It helps to lighten areas of pigmentation and improve skin texture. Your clinician may recommend a daily vitamin C serum as part of your treatment plan.
You can expect to see an improvement after a single skin needling session. But optimal results are achieved after a series of 3-6 treatments.
Skin Pigmentation Treatment at b clinic
Hyperpigmentation is a common skin complaint. But there are several treatments to help you get clear and more even-toned skin.
The best hyperpigmentation treatment for you will depend on the severity and size of the discolouration and your desired results.
Our team of board-certified doctors and skin experts can identify the cause of your hyperpigmentation and the best ways to treat it.
Book a free consultation today.