The exact processes behind hyperpigmentation aren’t entirely understood, but it remains an incredibly common skin condition that many people would rather not experience. It’s thought that hyperpigmentation occurs when the skin reacts quickly to a change in environment or injury, like sun damage, producing excess melanin that rushes to protect fluctuating areas with new skin cells. Sadly, these skin cells aren’t always the same colour or tone as our existing surface cells because of their inflammatory response, creating uneven skin tone and unwanted dark (or light) patches.
The exact biological processes and internal mechanisms that cause the development aren’t one hundred percent known, but there are many ways hyperpigmentation can develop. Because it is a reaction to external stimuli, it can develop over time or appear all at once. Hyperpigmentation can be unpredictable and may seem permanent, but we’re here to assure you it isn’t.
The causes of hyperpigmentation
Sun damage isn’t kind to our skin. Not only does it burn us, but it also encourages the development of premature ageing, sun spots, and hyperpigmentation. When skin is exposed to the ultraviolet rays of the sun, it produces an inflammatory response. This response starts as early as the first exposure to sunlight, and if you keep your skin exposed to sunlight for long periods of time then the inflammation levels will drastically increase. Our body produces hormones to combat this inflammation, which encourages the excess production of melanin in the skin. Over the years, if you keep exposing your skin to the sun for long periods of time, the hormones that activate melanin production remain permanently active and continue to darken the skin.
Skin damage, which can mean anything from a superficial cut to aggressive acne, leads to excess melanin production and contributes to hyperpigmentation. When you have any kind of skin damage, we react to it with inflammation. During the healing process our body produces plenty of new skin cells to close this wound, but because it has to rush to do so it produces melanin that potentially doesn’t match the rest of your skin tone. This kind of reaction is commonly seen in those who have experienced acne, because acne scarring can show either as pitted scars or as pigmentation changes after the skin rapidly heals.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy or while taking birth control pills are known to contribute to the development of hyperpigmentation. The rise in oestrogen and progesterone production cause a fluctuation from the norm, resulting in boosted melanin production. This condition, melanin production boosted by hormonal influences, is known as melasma. It can disappear after pregnancy or after hormonal levels are stabilised, but for others this may not be the case.
Some medication is known to cause hyperpigmentation and list it as a side effect to its remedies. Antibiotics, hormonal medication, and anti-inflammatory drugs have been known to cause excess melanin production and lead to hyperpigmentation. Medication that changes the way our hormones interact, or their secretion, invariably activates melanin production, which could lead to hyperpigmentation.
Chemical peels can be a highly effective way to target a range of conditions that include pigmentation changes. By creating a controlled and light wounding on the surface of the skin, a chemical peel removes the dead, damaged, and dying skin cells present. This essentially begins the processes of ‘releveling’ the skin, producing fresh skin cells with fresh pigment to take the place of those sloughed away. They’re effective at treating pigmentation caused by sun damage, skin trauma, and by acne scarring.
ZO Skin Health also uses a range of products rich in Vitamin A and retinol to penetrate the skin’s surface, seeking the skin receptors beneath. Emma J Aesthetics in Inverness uses two approaches in conjunction with ZO Skin Health: hydroquinone and non-hydroquinone. The former is used to achieve amazing results when lessening hyperpigmentation, and the latter is used for lighter treatment when seeking to maintain your exceptional results.
Hyperpigmentation creates an uneven skin tone that feels like it’s there to stay, but it doesn’t have to be. At our professional skin clinic in Inverness, we can help you achieve clearer, healthier, and more even-toned skin. Enquire online or call 01463 830149 to book your individual skin health consultation today.