Our skin is made of three layers- the upper ‘epidermis’, middle ‘dermis’ and lower ‘subcutis’. The color of our skin is predominantly determined by the pigment ‘melanin’ which is produced by certain cells called ‘melanocytes’ present in the epidermis. In simple terms, ‘hyperpigmentation’ means increased darkening of the skin. It occurs either due to an increase in melanin or in the number of melanocytes in the skin.
Hyperpigmentation is a very common disorder. It could be an aesthetic embarrassment for those who endure from it.
Some of the common pigmentary disorders are-
Melasma, Freckles, Lichen Planus, Cosmetic Dermatitis, Acanthosis Nigricans
Once the cause and severity of pigmentation is determined, our dermatologists will suggest the treatment plan. As with many skin conditions, it’s best to avoid the sun as much as possible, or use a sunscreen.
Some treatment modalities are-
- Topical Depigmenting Creams
- Chemical Peels
- Pigment Lasers
It is one of the most common causes of pigmentation on the face, often seen in females. Rarely it can affect males also. It presents as symmetrical brown patches over the cheeks, forehead, chin, upper lip, and bridge of the nose.
Some More Questions
The exact cause of Melasma is unknown. Some contributing factors are-
- Patients with a family history of Melasma
- Both Ultraviolet A rays from the sun as well as visible light from light sources (eg light bulb, laptops) can increase Melasma.
- Hormonal factors (pregnancy, thyroid disorders, endocrine dysfunction)
- Drugs (phenytoin, oral contraceptive pills) and
- Certain toxic ingredients in cosmetics and fragrances
Melasma often fades over several months after you stop taking hormonal medicines or pregnancy ends. However in a majority, it is a stubborn pigmentation that often recurs and needs multiple sessions of treatments.
Using sunscreen everyday helps prevent Melasma. Sun-protection is the most important step to be followed. Patients with Melasma are recommended to use broad-spectrum sunscreens, with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 50 or higher, each day, whether it is sunny outside or not, or if you are indoors or outdoors. This is because you are exposed to significant amount of ultraviolet rays while driving your car, walking down the street and even while you are working on your laptops.
Once the Pigmentation has cleared, a maintenance treatment with sunscreens and skin lightening products must be continued to avoid recurrences. Maintenance sessions of chemical peels once every two to three months are advised in stubborn cases of Melasma.
Freckles are small brown spots usually on the face and arms. Freckles are extremely common and are not a health threat. They are more often seen in the summer, especially among lighter-skinned people. However, freckles can occur in anyone, and appear as darker brown spots in people with darker skin.