Ever noticed how no one human being looks similar to each other? We’re all different in terms of our physical appearance which makes each one of us unique. And that includes our skin tone.
You see, pigmentation refers to the colouring of your skin and melanin is the pigment responsible for it. Fair-skinned people have less melanin in their body while for those with dark skin, they have more melanin.
However, UV rays can do severe damage to our skin, making the melanin in our body, our first line of barrier to absorb these harmful rays. That said, too much exposure to the sun can cause an overproduction of melanin, leading to skin pigmentation disorders.
As we grow older, it’s common to notice some pigmentation on the skin as we Singaporeans are often exposed to the sun. In some cases, pigmentation can appear as dark patches on the skin due to a variety of reasons such as Addison’s disease or hormonal influence.
While hyperpigmentation is a common skin concern among Singaporean women in their 40s or above, there are certainly ways to remove pigmentation and skin spots from the skin. Ahead, we’re sharing some information about hyperpigmentation and ways to treat it.
What is hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is a common skin condition which occurs when your skin over-produces melanin – the pigment that gives your skin its colour. It may cause certain areas of your skin to appear darker in spots or patches.
Why does hyperpigmentation occur?
Much like our skin’s natural healing process, the melanin content in our skin works to protect the underlying cells from the harmful UV rays by absorbing it. That said, hyperpigmentation is more prone for those with sensitive skin.
As for Asians, especially Singaporeans, we’re less likely to get burned due to our moderate melanin content but we may tan more easily. For that very reason, skin pigmentation treatment in Singapore is highly sought-after.
Types of hyperpigmentation
There are many types of hyperpigmentation but age spots, melasma, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation are among the most common types of hyperpigmentation.
Also known as liver spots or solar lentigines, they often appear as brown, tan, or black spots on areas of the body which are overexposed to the sun. Age spots are common among older adults as their body cannot produce melanin.
Known as “the mask of pregnancy”, melasma often appear as large, dark patches on the skin, especially on pregnant women due to hormonal changes or those taking contraceptive pills.
This type of hyperpigmentation often appears as spots or dark patches of skin after inflammation or injury to the skin such as acne or eczema. It’s common among those who have had inflammation or injury to the skin.
What causes hyperpigmentation?
The main cause of hyperpigmentation is overexposure to the sun along with skin inflammation, hormonal influence, and certain medical conditions.
To protect your skin from prolonged exposure to the sun, your body produces melanin, resulting in dark spots or patches, known as age spots, to appear on your skin.
After an inflammation such as acne, eczema or injury to the skin, your body will naturally heal itself which may result in dark patches around the injured skin. Those with darker skin tone are more likely to develop post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Though it remains unknown as to why hormonal changes may cause hyperpigmentation, it’s believed that pregnant women may develop melasma during their pregnancy.
In some cases, hyperpigmentation can be a sign of underlying disease coupled with a few other symptoms such as fatigue, weight loss, and stomach pain.
Ways to treat hyperpigmentation in Singapore
As Singapore receives a considerable amount of rain and sun throughout the year, it’s no surprise that some Singaporeans may develop hyperpigmentation on their skin. Additionally, hyperpigmentation treatment depends on the type of hyperpigmentation.
The following are some of the recommended treatments in Singapore:
This over-the-counter treatment commonly works to reduce pigmentation on the skin. Some topical creams may be prescribed with skin lightening ingredients such as vitamin C, azelaic acid, hydroquinone, kojic acid, or retinoids.
Topical creams typically work best to treat age spots, freckles, and melasma as these type of hyperpigmentation generally appear as dark spots or patches on the skin. However, do note that this type of treatment can take longer to show the results than professional treatments.
Chemical peels typically involve the application of a chemical solution to the face, neck, or hands to remove the outer layers of your skin. The solution applied to the skin causes it to blister and eventually peel off, revealing a smoother and less pigmented skin.
This type of treatment works best to reduce the appearance of age spots, melasma, freckles, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. However, it may cause the skin to be more sensitive temporarily to the sun.
Additionally, there are three types of chemical peels – superficial peel, medium peel, and deep peel. Each type of these chemical peels varies according to the chemical’s penetration depth and severity of hyperpigmentation.
Laser treatments have a similar effect as chemical peels but tend to be more precise as skin specialists have more control over the heat intensity of the treatment. It involves the use of targeted beams of light to reduce hyperpigmentation.
Generally, there are two types of laser therapies – ablative and non-ablative, with ablative lasers as the most intense laser treatment as it involves removing the outer layers of your skin. Meanwhile, non-ablative lasers only work to promote collagen production.
For those with dark skin tone, laser therapies may darken it instead of lightening it. So be sure to consult your dermatologist to assess the condition of your hyperpigmentation and select the best treatment for your skin.
Aside from these recommended treatments, certain home remedies may also work to reduce hyperpigmentation on your skin. However, for skin conditions that go deep into your skin such as freckles, acne, melasma, etc., you will need to seek advice from the professionals at a medically-certified clinic such as Eeva Medical Clinic to understand your skin condition.