To achieve soft, glowing and spotless skin is every girl’s dream. But sun exposure, pollution, diet, stress and irregular skincare practices are some of the many reasons that prevent you from making this dream a reality. Despite trying out various skincare remedies – from popular buzz-worthy products to concocting new DIY recipes, we have done it all. But even after several months of trying everything you could think of, are you still quite far away from getting rid of hyperpigmentation and achieving clear skin? Well, we are here to help.
In order to help you deal with this persistent problem of hyperpigmentation (we totally know how annoying it can be), we spoke to Mumbai’s leading dermatologist and skincare expert, Dr. Mrunal Shah Modi. In this article, she throws some light on the different causes of skin darkening as well as some incredible and highly effective hyperpigmentation treatments. Isn’t that awesome!? Read on for all the deets…
- What is hyperpigmentation and its causes?
- Hyperpigmentation treatments
- FAQs about hyperpigmentation treatment
What is hyperpigmentation and its causes?
Before we go ahead and find out about the various hyperpigmentation treatments, it is important to understand what exactly hyperpigmentation means. Dr. Modi says, “Simply put, hyperpigmentation is a term used to describe uneven skin tone. When the skin looks a little darker in patches and looks darker as compared to the surrounding areas or your original skin tone, it can be termed hyperpigmentation. The main reason behind this skin issue is an excess of melanin production in certain areas of the skin.
“There are a lot of causes of hyperpigmentation, but the main causes include sun spots, melasma, post-acne marks, age spots, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, sunburns and acanthosis nigricans.”
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation –
This is an aftermath of a skin injury, acne or certain skincare procedures such as chemical peels. This increases the melanin content in particular areas of your face, making them appear either dark brown, red or pink.
Sun spots –
Also known as solar lentigines occurs due to unprotected and prolonged sun exposure. The harmful UVA and UVB rays end up increasing the melanin production in your skin, which is your skin’s defense mechanism to sun damage. This leaves your skin looking darker in certain patches.
Hormonal imbalance, especially during and after pregnancy, is the main cause of melasma in women.
Age spots –
Due to constant, unprotected sun exposure, a reaction called photoageing occurs, which is just another form of sun damage or sunburn. In this process, your skin shows premature signs of ageing, which cause the appearance of age spots.
Now that we know about the various causes of hyperpigmentation, it is time to look at some of the best ways to deal with this problem.
1. Skin lightening creams
Skin lightening creams are nothing but the various over-the-counter skincare products available in the market. These creams are specially formulated with certain ingredients that have been proven to reduce pigmentation and make your skin appear more even-toned and clearer. According to Dr. Modi, if your skin has a milder problem of pigmentation, then skin-lightening creams do work. “Most doctors prescribed skin lightening creams are enriched with various lightening agents like hydroquinone, azelaic acid, glycolic acid, licorice extracts, niacinamide, N-acetyl glucosamine and kojic acid, which, when applied once or twice a day do show amazing results. The only thing to remember is that skin lightening creams must always be used with sunscreen.”
2. Chemical peels
Another really good hyperpigmentation treatment is chemical peels. This treatment uses skin acids of higher concentration on the darker areas of your skin to reduce pigmentation by peeling off the topmost layer. “Chemical peels are very effective in the treatment of hyperpigmentation where it peels the superficial damaged layer. Different chemical peels penetrate different depths of the skin. They are called superficial, medium depths and deep peels. Glycolic acid creams are very commonly used, it is also called fruit acid peel as it is derived from sugarcane. Other commonly used peels are salicylic acid peels, lactic peels, phytic peels, yellow peels TCA peels”, explains Dr. Modi. If you are someone who is subjected to regular sun exposure, then chemical peels are the best way to prevent as well as eliminate hyperpigmentation.
3. Skin acids
Another hyperpigmentation treatment that has gained a lot of popularity in the last few years in skin acids. Similar to chemical peels (but of lesser strength), skin acids exfoliate the topmost layer of skin, boost cell renewal and thereby help to even out your skin tone. Dr. Modi says, “When used in right concentrations and in combination with a good sunscreen, skin acids are an effective way to deal with hyperpigmentation at home. Even though the most effective acid is ascorbic acid (vitamin C), other common ones include azelaic acid, ferulic acid, glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid, lactic acid and mandelic acid.”
4. Laser peels
As the name suggests, laser peels use concentrated beams of light to reduce and eliminate hyperpigmentation. The two most common types of laser peels are ablative and non-ablative. Ablative treatments are super intense and remove several layers of your skin for faster results. Non-ablative treatments on the other hand simply target the topmost layer to improve collagen production for smoother, tighter and younger-looking skin.
If you have superficial scarrings such as post-acne marks or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, then microdermabrasion is a great in-clinic treatment you must try. Since microdermabrasion only affects the epidermis, it won’t really work with deep-rooted and long-standing skin pigmentation. In order for this treatment to show visible and long-lasting results, you will need several treatments, therefore making it quite an expensive option over time.
This is a much better treatment option for hyperpigmentation as compared to microdermabrasion. This treatment involves removing the epidermis (the topmost layer of your skin), while also delivering certain effects to the deeper skin layers. This makes it extremely effective against certain types of hyperpigmentation such as acne scars, chicken pox scars, skin injuries, sun damage and age spots. Dermabrasion is an excellent treatment to show much faster results and deliver even-toned skin in no time.
FAQs about hyperpigmentation treatment
Q. How long does it take for hyperpigmentation to fade on average?
A. Getting rid of hyperpigmentation definitely won’t happen over time and it requires quite a bit of time and patience. “It usually takes around three to six months for hyperpigmentation to fade away completely. But it all also depends on certain other factors like how old the pigmentation is, the diagnosis and the cause. In some cases, hyperpigmentation can even take a year or more to completely fade away.”
Q. Can hyperpigmentation be cured permanently?
A. The answer to this question depends entirely on the depth and extent of the pigmentation in question. If the deeper levels of the skin are affected, then it will take a longer time to heal. But it is really important to take regular and constant care to keep hyperpigmentation at bay. “Hyperpigmentation can reoccur so maintenance is as important as the treatment. Some hyperpigmentation like post inflammatory hyperpigmentation due to acne may go permanently, while some like melasma and freckles are known to reoccur.”
Q. Do home remedies work to treat hyperpigmentation?
A. Even though in-clinic treatments with a dermatologist are the quickest and most effective ways to deal with hyperpigmentation, home remedies could work for very superficial scarring. “Homemade remedies work minimally in the treatment of hyperpigmentation. Few homemade products like milk, yogurt, gram flour with turmeric, vitamin C, apple cider vinegar which is acetic acid, and aloe vera can be tried”, concludes Dr. Modi.