Meet your new Number 1 skin enemy
Considered even more aging than wrinkles & lines
Pigmentation - Hyperpigmentation
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Skin Discolouration - Brown Patches - Age Spots
Pigmentation and Hyperpigmentation are the same condition. Both terms relate to skin colouring. For the sake of reducing any confusion, from here on we will use only the term, “Pigmentation” where possible on this web page.
What is Pigmentation?
Pigmentation – brown patches, age spots, marks, splotches – all can be caused by excessive sun exposure, hormone imbalances, inflammation and injury to the skin. It most commonly appears on the face, neck and décolletage. It’s also notoriously difficult to treat.
Before you can treat your pigmentation, you need to know what type you have. Those with fair skin are more prone to sun-induced pigment and people with olive complexions can be more susceptible to post-inflammatory pigment. Women who are pregnant, who take the oral contraceptive pill, or who are on hormone replacement therapy or IVF are more likely to suffer from hormone induced pigmentation, aka melasma or chloasma.
Pigmentation will often appear as we become older as our melanocytes (the cells that produce pigment) increase in size as we age. Younger skin can be at risk of pigment from sun damage – that cute spray of freckles across the nose and cheeks can become more dense, causing uneven tone and darkness to the face, and melasma caused by the pill is very common in younger women.
If your body makes too much melanin, your skin gets darker. The darker spots or patches are known as PIGMENTATION.
Pigmentation is a condition where patches of skin become darker in colour than normal, healthy skin.
- Special cells in the skin called “melanocytes” produce melanin.
- Skin colour comes from melanin and this colouring is referred to as Pigment.
- When melanocyte cells become damaged or unhealthy, it affects melanin production.
- Melanin disorders result in the formation of excessive, unwanted skin discolouration, which affect the colour of your skin and we refer to this as Pigmentation.
- Some pigmentation disorders affect just patches of skin, others affect your entire body.
- Pigmentation is a condition that affects all skin colours and both sexes.
- Pigmentation can be the result of melanocyte damage (over production of melanin) caused by UV exposure (sun damage – tanning), hormones, heat, trauma (injury) or medication.
- UV exposure (sun damage) is the most common cause of Pigmentation.
- Most pigmentation can be eliminated to provide unblemished skin.
Pigmentation Treatments at Nascent
Types of Pigmentation
Pigmentation disorders are among the most common complaints of clients seeking skin care. Pigmentation is a condition that requires the expertise and understanding of an aesthetician (skin specialist). It affects many Caucasians, African-Americans, Indigenous, Hispanics and Asians.
Common forms or terms used to refer to pigmentation include;-
Solar Lentigines | Age Spots | Liver Spots
Melasma | Chloasma | Mask of Pregnancy
Freckles | Ephelides
Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)
If your body makes too little melanin, your skin gets lighter (referred to as HYPOPIGMENTATION – not to be confused with the term Hyperpigmentation).
Three (3) common types of HYPOPIGMENTATION and pigment loss are trauma, vitiligo and albinism.
1. Trauma – If you’ve had a skin infection, blister, burn, or other trauma to your skin, you might have a loss of pigmentation in the affected area. The good news with this type of pigment loss is that it’s frequently of a temporary nature, but it may take some time to re-pigment. This type of hypopigmentation is suited to IPL treatment.
2. Vitiligo causes smooth, white patches on the skin. In some people, these patches can appear all over the body. It is an auto immune disorder in which the pigment-producing cells are damaged. There is no cure for vitiligo, and IPL and laser treatments cannot assist – no matter what anybody else might tell you.
3. Albinism is an inherited disorder caused by the absence of melanin. This results in a complete lack of pigmentation in skin, hair or eyes. People with albinism have an abnormal gene that restricts the body from producing melanin. There is no cure for albinism. People with albinism should use a sunscreen at all times because they are much susceptible to sun damage and skin cancer. Albinism can occur in any race but is most common among Caucasians. IPL and laser cannot treat Albinism.
How do I know if I have Pigmentation?
If you have any areas on your skin that are darker in colour than the rest of your body then it’s likely that you have pigmentation. These areas can range from the very small to the very large, so everything from freckles to sun spots is classed as pigmentation.
As stated previously on this web page, pigmentation is caused by an over production of melanin – the pigment that gives our skin, hair and eyes its natural colour – in patches of the skin. This over production is triggered by a variety of factors, but the main ones can be linked back to sun exposure, genetic factors, age, hormonal influences, and skin injuries or inflammation.
Pigmentation is a common skin ailment, where some areas or patches of skin turn darker in colour. Almost everyone has a few brown pigment spots on their face from sun exposure (particularly here in Australia with our harsh sun and high UV) and whilst brown pigment spots are not usually harmful to the skin’s health, they detract from an even, luminous complexion and can be cosmetically displeasing. It is a condition that affects all skin colours and both sexes.
Pigmentation can sit unseen below the epidermis (top layer of the skin) but becomes visible when there is too much of the pigment (melanin) near and on the surface of the skin. It displays itself in different forms such as brown discoloured patches of skin, freckles, sun spots, liver spots, age spots, post inflammatory hyperpigmentation or even melasma
Skin Analysis & Consultation
Still not sure if you have Pigmentation or if it can be treated?
Book a complimentary no obligation consultation with our Skin Specialist to discuss.
Many skin changes are harmless. Some causes for discoloured skin patches are fairly minor conditions that need only simple treatment. Other causes may be more severe and require ongoing treatment
Care must be taken not to confuse pigmentation skin spots with those that are actually skin cancers. Skin cancer is very serious, but it can be treated successfully when it is detected early. It is important to speak with your doctor if you notice rapid or bothersome changes in your skin.
If you’re serious about clearing up your pigmentation, I recommend the following;-
For sun-induced pigment I favour IPL Photorejuvenation
For hormonal pigment there’s no cure as such, however it can be managed with a good skin care regime and in-clinic treatments such as Pico laser (Pico is not available at Nascent Skin Clinic) or depigmentation chemical skin peels such as our Aspect Pigment Punch Peel, Cosmedix Timeless Retinol Peel or the Cosmedix Elite Timeless RX Peel.
For early onset or minimal pigment, I like to combine low level, gentle Chemical Skin Peels with LED Light Phototherapy to gradually break down the pigment, brighten the complexion and unify skin tone
Unless you want to end up right back where you started…
…treatments are wasted if you continue to SKIP the SPF sunscreen
Diligent sun protection is vital in managing all types of pigmentation,
as sun damage is where it inevitably starts!
* Regular application of cosmetic lighteners and sometimes even moderate lifestyle changes will also assist
Pigmentation investigation can baffle even the most experienced clinical aesthetician. Despite performing a thorough analysis, sometimes the most seemingly innocent factor can be responsible for pigmentation. For example, scented body lotions or fragrances sprayed on or applied in areas that come in contact with ultraviolet light may penetrate stubborn or suspicious pigmentary discolourations to the jaw, neck, décolleté, arm or leg.
I can’t begin to count the number of times a client exhibiting pigmentation morbidity had the mis-impression that you can magically make it disappear with a treatment or two, or one product?
Whilst today’s IPL Phototherapy and LED Phototherapy treatments are extremely effective at treating pigmentation, we have to always remember pigmentation is an injury of the skin and requires the ongoing due diligence and continued compliance of both the aesthetician and client for the rest of their lives.
These disorders do not fade or go away over night and must be managed daily. Clinical treatments, continuance of skin lighteners and daily protection of SPF must become a lifestyle routine to manage these challenging pigmentation conditions.
Some of our favourite Pigment fighting cosmeceutical skin care products
Vitamin C is one of the most effective ingredients for treating pigmentation, along with other signs of aging. Vitamin C brightens the skin and is good for exfoliation. Look for brightening serums that feature ingredients such as Vitamin C, Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), bearberry or liquorice extracts, and azelaic acid.