Pigmentation refers to the coloring of the skin. Melanin is a pigment that gives color to the skin and is produced by cells called melanocytes. Melanin production is affected when these cells become damaged or dysfunctional. Some pigmentation diseases affect only a small portion of the skin whereas others have an impact on the entire body.
The skin darkens if the body produces too much melanin. Pregnancy, Addison's illness, and excessive sun exposure can all darken the skin. The skin usually becomes light if less melanin is being produced by the body.
The skin can lighten, darken, or change color due to pigment disorders, trauma, and other changes in the body. Types of skin pigment discoloration include hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation.
When the skin generates more melanin, hyperpigmentation occurs which causes spots or patches of skin to appear darker than the rest of the body. Hyperpigmentation is a skin condition that affects people with all types of skin. Cuts and burns are some of the examples of hyperpigmentation that immediately occurs after an injury. These can usually be noticed on any part of the body. Excess of pigment in certain parts of the skin is considered to be medically harmless, although it might occasionally indicate a medical condition.
Hyperpigmentation is usually considered to be harmless but some people wish to get rid of it because of aesthetic reasons.
Hyperpigmentation can be caused by:
Hypopigmentation refers to areas of skin that are lighter in color than the rest of the body. The skin can lighten if the skin cells don't create enough melanin. These effects can occur in spots or throughout the body. There are several factors that can cause Hypopigmentation which are as below:
Burns, infection, or any chemical exposure.
Inflammatory skin disorders like psoriasis and eczema (atopic dermatitis).
Albinism which is a rare hereditary disorder that is caused by an absence of a melanin-producing enzyme.
To diagnose the skin disorder, the doctor studies the medical history of the patient and some tests are also done which are as follows:
There is no specific reason to what exactly causes pigmentation, still, sun damage is the biggest reason one can consider. So, here are some of the possible causes of pigmentation that should be avoided for clear skin:
Depending upon the causes and other various factors, hyperpigmentation has been divided into various types which are as follows:
Melasma: It develops as a result of normal changes, particularly during pregnancy. The changes in the skin can be visible on the face and in the abdomen. It can affect both males and females, but females are more likely to be impacted. Brown areas on the forehead, cheeks and upper lips help to identify it. Melasma can happen on the forearms and neck.
Melasma can occur in three different areas such as on the upper lips, cheeks, nose, and forehead.
The 3 different types of melasma are:
Following are the options to remove pigmentation:
The outermost layer of skin (epidermis) is removed and the inner skin cells are stimulated to develop in this process, resulting in smoother, healthier, and brighter skin. The more skin is removed, the more dramatic the results will be. Different chemicals are utilized depending on the needed level. Alpha hydroxy acids, such as lactic, glycolic, and fruit acids, are some examples. One needs to stay away from direct sunlight for the period suggested by the dermatologist.
This is the most popular pigmentation treatment option nowadays because there is no downtime. It doesn’t affect the topmost layer of the skin and targets the deep skin layer to break the melanin pigment. The heat generated by the laser beams also encourages new collagen production. So, with this treatment along with reduction in dark spots, one can expect an overall skin rejuvenation. Unlike the common myth this procedure does not cause skin thinning and is virtually painless. After a few days, the results are visible, and keep improving for the next few weeks. Additional sessions may be required to get the desired and long-lasting results.
This is a non-ablative laser treatment, also known as photofacial, that promotes collagen development in the inner skin layer (dermis). Besides addressing the pigmentation concerns, photofacial is also recommended in case of spider veins. It is the most effective for freckles and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Each session lasts around 20-30 minutes.
These topical products contain chemicals that lessen melanin levels, hence lowering pigmentation. These should be applied twice a day. If these topical creams are recommended by the doctor after examining the patient’s skin, these are quite effective on most skin types and are best utilized for Melasma or aging spots. One thing that should be kept in mind is that every product that claims to give results may not actually be effective and can have side effects. So, one must first consult a dermatologist before applying such skin lightening creams.
To know which one out of these treatments will suit you the best, please feel free to consult Dr. Priyanka Reddy, a leading pigmentation specialist doctor in Bangalore.
Q.1 How to prevent hyperpigmentation?
Ans. There have been several factors that are responsible for hyperpigmentation. However, taking the following preventive steps can reduce the chances of pigmentation:
Q.2 What are the post-treatment guidelines?
Ans. Patients must follow the suggested post-operative instructions. The main guideline for pigmentation concerns always remains the same - to protect the skin against sun damage. Treatments like chemical peels and lasers may require additional care like not rubbing or exfoliating the skin for a few days as it will be sensitive after the treatment. Hot baths shall also be avoided for a couple of days. After receiving laser treatment, for the first 24 hours, the skin will likely appear red and possibly swollen, so avoid applying makeup or fragranced skin products, avoid excessive sun exposure, and use a good sunscreen as recommended by the dermatologist. Additionally, any cosmetic treatments like tweezing, waxing, bleaching, or chemical peels (in-office & at-home both) must be avoided for at least 4 weeks after the treatment.
Q.3 Does pigmentation occur only on the face?
Ans. No, pigmentation can occur on any part of the body. It might appear in the form of tiny spots, clustered patches or the entire skin.
Q.4 What is the cost of pigmentation treatment?
Ans. The cost of pigmentation treatment in Bangalore at DNA Skin Clinic varies according to the treatment method chosen, severity of pigmentation and the number of sessions required for an individual.