In honor of July, Hyperpigmentation Awareness Month
Brown spots and discoloration can be frustrating for those who have dealt with it, but the good news is that skin hyperpigmentation and melasma aren’t dangerous. Individuals of all ages, ethnicities and skin types can be affected, although those with darker skin are more prone to develop it. However, no matter what your demographic may be, we are very aware as Dermatologists that a pigmentary disorder can affect one’s quality of life. My latest conversation on Stamina Cosmetic’s “Healthy Dose of Stamina” Instagram Live, was one with Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd, creator of DermFriends, on what both these skin conditions are, how we can prevent them, and what treatment options there are for those seeking support.
What is Hyperpigmentation?
- Hyperpigmentation is a common reason people visit dermatologists. It’s brown to black spots, blotches and discolorations on the skin which create uneven skin complexion.
- This skin disorder can be a frustrating condition since it is visible on the surface and usually in the most apparent area, our face. Many of us don’t want to be seen or ‘judged’ because of something on our skin, but as dermatologists it’s important that we validate and address hyperpigmentation disorders, and let you know that you’re not alone. It's valid to feel sad and/or frustrated by it.
- Sun exposure, acne, genetics, and hormonal changes can trigger or worsen irregular pigmentation.
Types of Hyperpigmentation
- As mentioned, anyone can get a pigmentary disorder, but Melasma is more common in Latina and Asian patients with genetic predisposition and hormonal triggers. Generally, Melasma occurs in females in the age range of 30-50 years old and then it will fade away over years. Hot, humid and sunny environments, like Florida, can be a major skin stressor and worsen Melasma flares. In the meantime, we can manage and make it better.
- Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)
- PIH can affect your epidermis (skin’s surface level) or your dermis (a deep layer of your skin).
- This is seen in both men and women of all ages, but more common in people with darker skin.
- It usually appears as skin blemish due to skin inflammation (pimple or rash), or injury (scrape from trauma).
- If you’re middle-aged or older you may notice changes in your skin. Whether it is scaly patches or skin areas that are darker, these spots are most likely on skin that’s been exposed to the sun and heat and other environmental skin aggressors, especially on your face and hands. Age spots are the most common marker for hyperpigmentation and often occur in those over the age of 50. Your skin becomes thinner and drier as you age and is more vulnerable to develop discolorations which are familially predetermined.
What are the causes of Hyperpigmentation?
- Sun exposure and excessive sun is our skin’s absolute enemy. The sun’s UV rays trigger extra melanin production to defend your skin from damage. That extra melanin is what makes you tan but when sun exposure is frequent or excessive it can make dark spots appear. We recommend that you use a generous amount of sunscreen everyday and reapply every 90 minutes to minimize this risk.
- Hormonal changes play a factor in our skin’s reactions. Hormone replacement therapy, hormone contraceptives, natural hormonal essential oils, and topical hormone creams can aggravate melasma.
- Certain blood pressure medications that help with excess water (certain diuretics) may make skin more sensitive to the sun and in turn play a role in how our skin reacts and pigments in the sun.
- Inflammation, or skin trauma, can also trigger pigment producing cells into high gear, leaving behind a dark spot. Skin trauma or irritation can include acne, eczema, big bites, burns, or razor bumps, trauma or surgical scars, are just to name a few.
Looking at either one or both conditions, there holds truth to the fact that you should not only think of them from a cosmetic approach, but as a holistic one as well. Studies show that our emotional and mental state don’t necessarily cause these conditions, but they can make skin conditions worse – especially for inflammatory disorders. With melasma we think of it as a pigmentary disorder, but it’s also an inflammatory disorder. Hence, wellness-oriented activities (fitness, nutrition, rest and mindfulness) can benefit to reduce stress, inflammation and various inflammatory skin disorders. Consider exploring our Integrative Skin Care, Stamina Synergy as an inspiring pathway toward your wellness journey.
What treatment remedies are there for hyperpigmentation?
If you’re bothered by dark spots due to hyperpigmentation on your skin, there are excellent solutions helpful to ease your skin stress and frustration. Lets review how to invigorate your skin resilience, radiance and longevity.
- One of the most important everyday habits you may consider in helping with hyperpigmentation is a simple skin care routine. We know that not everyone can afford over the top products, and that’s okay, but you should budget and decide which skin care products you should stick to once you understand your skin type. If your skin type is prone to pigmentation, then skin barrier building and brightening ingredients are essential.
- When exploring illuminating skin care products, some ingredients to appreciate are Hyaluronic acid, lecithin and green tea to moisturize and protect your skin barrier as well as niacinamide, gluconolactone and guarana to energize and brighten your skin. These are all found in the Stamina Cosmetics Intention Moisturizer which can be used for all skin types, especially pigmentation-vulnerable types, to replenish skin moisturize, reduce inflammation and remedy skin blemishes.
- Slow and Steady Wins the Race! We don’t recommend that you start an aggressive skin care routine if you haven’t had one before today. Start slow – even if it means just using one or two different products (sunscreen and brightening moisturizer daily) and see how your skin responds. After a couple of months, if you see progress then you can build upon these results.
- It’s tempting to scratch a mosquito bite or squeeze a pimple, but that will only increase inflammation that’s often responsible for skin discoloration. Instead, work on avoiding the habit via skin patches like Mighty Patch and using a soothing and healing Hypochlorous Acid treatment serum, Stamina Sleeping Serum, which can help to prevent further skin discolorations.
- Ultraviolet radiation, aka sun damage, can worsen skin pigmentation. So protect the skin with various techniques and daily SPF 30+ sunscreen. Check out our Sun and Skin Stamina Blog for more tips. There is also a valuable supplement, Heliocare, which can minimize sun damaging effects on the skin.
- Try to avoid overlayering too many skin care products to correct the original discolorations issue. The problem of using too many cosmetics to cover up or enhance treatment is it may lead to skin irritations, breakouts or breakdown of ingredients’ efficacy. Instead, stay true to one-two brightening skin agents am and pm and be patient with the results.
- If the pigmentation issue you are experiencing is stubborn, seek assistance from a board certified dermatologist, to dig deeper and figure-out any unclear potential root causes and guide you with more effective treatments to lighten these persistent skin discolorations.
- Medical Grade Skin Care. Currently, there are medical grade skin care products such as Cyspera, Avene, Alastin, which have more clinical evidence to improve hyperpigmentation and melasma.
- Chemical Peels - Chemical Peels with an experienced aesthetician is another way to expedite shedding of the dull and pigmented top layers of the skin. This recharges skin clarity and radiance. Another great and gradual alternative for that glow boosting skin effect is our AT-HOME PEEL with Stamina MPP Mask (Mask, Polish and Peel). It contains glycolic acid (alpha hydroxy acid), an ingredient well known to micro-exfoliate and remedy skin blemishes from breakouts and pigmentations. It is blended well with botanical skin Adaptogens such as Aloe and Green Tea as well as hydrating Tamanu and Rosehip oils, leaving immediate skin glowing satisfaction.
- Your dermatologists can also recommend certain skin refreshing Laser Therapies such as Ultraclear and Picoway, which can alleviate skin hyperpigmentation in a more meaningful way.
These are just a few of the many interventions you can consider to minimize dark spots, sun spots and dark skin blotches. Hyperpigmentation affects many of us throughout our lives. However, due to its unsightly nature, it can affect our self-perception and hence is beneficial to treat. We hope these pigmentation remedy pearls can enhance your skin stamina and brilliance. Keep following #DoseofStamina @staminacosmetics for more advice on skin wellness and holistic approach to overall well-being and enduring stamina.
Dr. MBK aka @dermwithstamina
Stamina®️ Cosmetics Founder and CEO