Skin Pigmentation and Available Treatment Solutions
Pigmentation is one of the most common skin concerns that Asians seek treatment for. There are 2 types of pigmentation, hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation.
Hyperpigmentation is when the affected skin becomes darker than the surrounding areas. Hypopigmentation is the opposite. We will discuss more about hyperpigmentation in this article.
Hyperpigmentation happens when the skin cells, melanocytes are over-active and produce more melanin. Melanin gives your skin colour. With more melanin, you will find your skin colour darkens.
Some Common Types of Hyperpigmentation
They are light brown small spots found on cheeks and nose due to frequent exposure to the sun. They are flat and do not cause uneven skin texture. They usually appear from a young age and increase with age.
Age Spots or Sun Spots (Solar Lentigines)
These are brownish pigmentation found on the face and body due to constant exposure to the sun and/or aging. They usually appear around the age of 30-40s and increase with age. Some lesions may thicken with time leading to uneven skin texture.
Melasma is a common problem affecting Asian skin. It usually appears as brownish patch over the cheeks. Sometimes, they can appear on the forehead, nose, jawline, upper lips too. Melasma is caused by UV exposure, genetic and hormonal. Sad to say, women are more prone to suffer from this. It may get worse due to pregnancy and use of oral contraceptives. It is challenging to treat as the recurrence rate is higher than other types of pigmentation.
Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)
PIH results from injury to skin. You may get them from acne breakout, skin allergy, scratching and side effects from cosmetic procedures. The affected skin becomes dark after the injury recovers. Some people are more prone to PIH than others. It may fade with time and if you want to speed up the process, there are treatments available.
How to get rid of hyperpigmentation
Prevention is always better than seeking treatment. You can prevent pigmentation or stop it from becoming more prominent by
Avoid exposure to the sun. Use a sunscreen with an 30SPF or higher. It can protect the skin and prevent hyperpigmentation from becoming darker.
Avoid picking at the skin especially when there is injury. Do not peel scabs and acne.
Although hyperpigmentation is generally harmless, some people wish to get rid of it. There are a range of possible treatment methods that you can try.
#1 Topical creams
Many people use topical treatments to treat hyperpigmentation. Topical treatments will include ingredients that lighten the skin, such as:
Hydroquinone - it is a skin-bleaching agent that is used to lighten areas of darkened skin. You will need a doctor’s prescription in Singapore to buy it as there are some side effects if you use it wrongly.
Kojic acid or Arbutin - they act as a tyrosine suppressant. They prevents melanin production thus reduce the chance of having pigmentation.
Vitamin C - An antioxidant. It helps protect the skin from free radicals, lighten pigmentations, reduce wrinkles and brighten skin tone. Do note that the potency does matter as an extremely high potency of vitamin C can burn skin.
Mandelic acids - it has the ability to lighten and brighten skin, fade unwanted sun spots, banish acne scars, and minimize age spots.
#2 Salon Facials
Facials that incorporate vitamin C, mulberry, arbutin, AHA, IPL, BPL etc can help to brighten your skin. The treatment frequency depends on the severity of the pigmentation. For pigmentations that are deep-seated, you can combine with cosmetic procedures.
#3 Cosmetic procedures by doctors
These treatments are usually more intense and need doctors to perform. They can help to lighten pigmentation in a shorter time. Skin Laser such as Fractional CO2, Nd-yag Laser, Yellow Laser etc treat different types of pigmentation. A consultation will be required before finalising which Laser is suitable.
Chemical peels eg Cosmelan peels remove a thin layer of damaged or aging skin to reveal a healthier skin underneath. The intensity of the peels can be controlled. We do not recommend you to have this treatment often as our skin needs time to heal.
Please stay away from the sun and must apply sunscreen for the next 2-3 days after such treatments.
Should you be considering one of these procedures, do discuss the process and possible side effects with a qualified aesthetician or dermatologist.