Skin pigmentation disorders are a common skin condition which affects people of all skin types. It may appear as dark spots or large patches of darkened skin on certain parts of the human body such as the face, neck, and hands. In some cases, some may experience albinism, which is the loss of skin colour.
For some people, skin hyperpigmentation such as freckles may appear attractive to them, but for some, it may affect their overall perception of beauty. That said, freckles can be an aesthetic asset, but that highly depends on its position and at times, can make the skin appear splotchy.
In Singapore, freckles may not be as common as other types of hyperpigmentation (think age spots, melasma, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) as most but not all Singaporeans have moderate skin tone.
Ahead, we’ll be sharing the causes of hyperpigmentation, types of hyperpigmentation, ways to get rid of hyperpigmentation and preventive measures. But, before that, you should understand what is hyperpigmentation.
What is hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation refers to a darkened skin condition caused by high levels of melanin. It often appears as dark spots or patches on the skin which makes your skin tone look uneven.
The three common types of hyperpigmentation are known as age spots, melasma, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Depending on the type of hyperpigmentation, they may appear as tiny spots or large, dark patches on your skin.
People with dark skin tone are more likely to develop hyperpigmentation due to higher levels of melanin content.
Types of hyperpigmentation
As mentioned earlier, there are several types of hyperpigmentation with the common ones being age spots, melasma, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Also known as sunspots, liver spots or solar lentigines, age spots are common among older adults or after an extended period of sun exposure. This type of hyperpigmentation generally appears as brown, tan, or black spots on areas that are overexposed to the sun such as the face, and hands.
Also known as “the mask of pregnancy”, melasma is common among pregnant women and those taking contraceptive pills. Not only that, but people with dark skin tone may also develop melasma. It typically appears as large, darkened patches of skin on the forehead, face, and stomach.
This type of skin pigmentation occurs as a result of inflammation or injury to the skin. Due to the skin’s natural healing process, it may leave behind a flat area of discolouration. It’s common among those with acne as the skin dries up.
What are the underlying causes of hyperpigmentation?
Hyperpigmentation is caused by high levels of melanin in the body. Note that it’s the pigment responsible for the colouring of our skin, hair, and eyes.
There are various factors which can cause an increase in melanin production, but the common ones are sun exposure, skin inflammation, and hormonal influences. Let’s dive deeper into each of these causes.
Prolonged sun exposure
As Singapore is located at the earth’s equator, daily exposure to the sun is unavoidable. This makes hyperpigmentation a common skin condition among Singaporeans. You see, the sun triggers melanin production to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
However, prolonged exposure to the sun may lead to hyperpigmentation, which is caused by an overproduction of melanin in the body. Among those who may develop hyperpigmentation due to prolonged sun exposure are young working adults, and older adults especially men who once worked long hours under the sun.
Hormonal influences can cause hyperpigmentation known as melasma among women and pregnant women. It’s believed that changes in female hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone can trigger the overproduction of melanin once the skin is exposed to the sun.
Not only that, but hyperpigmentation can also be a side effect or reaction to certain treatments or medications such as contraceptive pills.
As the name suggests, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation occurs due to skin inflammation such as acne, or injuries such as cuts, burns, and chemical exposure. The skin’s natural healing process subsequently takes place to heal the wound, which may darken and discolour the skin during the process.
This type of hyperpigmentation is common among teenagers, young working adults, and adults as they cope with hormonal changes in the body, which may cause acne or breakouts on their face, neck, and body.
How to permanently remove skin pigmentation?
Although these types of hyperpigmentation are harmless, it’s normal to have the desire to get rid of hyperpigmentation. There is a range of treatment methods and home remedies that you can try.
While certain home remedies (think aloe vera, liquorice extracts, honey, lemon juice, baking soda) may seem all-natural and good for the skin, prolonged use of home remedies may affect the natural pH level of our skin.
If you’re looking to permanently remove hyperpigmentation, here are several options to help you safely remove skin pigmentation in Singapore:
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.
Also known as 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.
Topical creams that are prescribed with skin lightening ingredients may work to reduce skin pigmentation but typically takes longer to show the results.
However, do note that skin re-pigmentation may occur due to your environment or hormonal influences.
Preventive measures to keep hyperpigmentation away
Many dismiss the idea of keeping to several preventive measures as they have little regard about their skin. However, if you want to maintain a skin that’s free from pigmentation, best to make the following measures a routine.
Wear sunscreen daily, be it indoors or outdoors as UV rays can cause hyperpigmentation.
Use a hat or umbrella when walking under the sun.
Exfoliate regularly to remove dead skin cells.
Don’t pick on your blemishes as bacteria and friction from your hand may aggravate the surrounding skin.
Curate a suitable set of skincare products to help prevent skin pigmentation.
Go for regular facial treatments to better understand your skin condition.
It may take an immense amount of effort to prevent skin pigmentation, but at the end of the day, you will benefit from it. For a better understanding of your skin condition, you should seek advice from a medically-certified clinic like Eeva Medical Clinic.