Reader Question: Treatments for Hyperpigmentation!

 

question mark

Hi readers!  Anyone else excited that it is Thursday? 🙂

Someone recently asked me about what they can do regarding sun spots.  What is commonly referred to as sun spots or age spots is hyperpigmentation. Simplified, hyperpigmentation is caused by an overproduction of melanin (brown pigment that gives skin color) that causes the darkening of the skin.  Below are causes of hyperpigmentation along with possible treatments.

Causes of Hyperpigmentation

  • Overexposure to sun, tanning beds, fluorescent and ambient lighting
  • Hormones/ Pregnancy
  • Medications- birthcontrol, thyroid, hormone replacement therapy (*Note: Never discontinue medication without the approval of your physician)
  • Stress
  • Inflammation/trauma caused by heat, acne, wounds, burns, eczema, etc
  • Age

Treatment Options

  • Exfoliation/chemical peels such as TCA, Jessner’s peels or lactic acid peels
  • Increased cell turnover with retinol/retinoids (Retin-A)
  • IPL/Laser
  • LED Light Therapy
  • Skincare products that contain arbutin, kojic acid, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), lactic acid, azelaic acid, phytic acid, and licorice extract.  Hydroquinone is another option available but it is a controversial ingredient that has a high risk of creating skin sensitivity.  Hydroquinone also must be used in 3/6 month cycles meaning you can only use it for a few months at a time and then cycle off.
  • Sunscreen!  Important no matter what!  None of the above treatments will be effective if you don’t protect your skin from sun damage-you’ll end up right back where you started and can even cause more pigmentation problems.

Remember that these are guidelines and the treatment option that will work best for you depends on a consultation with a skincare professional/dermatologist.

I hope this was helpful. 🙂

Thanks for reading,

Stephanie  

Hands of Time

hourglass

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”

– Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

This quote has stuck with me since my days as an undergrad English major, while taking a class in the Harlem Renaissance .  Albeit this quote was not aesthetically intended, my mind was always revolving around this concept, particularly on how it can tie into skincare.  How?  Simple.  Time will answer the question as to how well you took care of your skin.

Most of us spend so much time focusing on taking care of our face but forget about other telling signs: our hands, neck and décolleté,  These overlooked areas are also prone to sun spots, fine lines, wrinkles, discoloration and redness.  If you have inadvertently neglected these areas, here are some solutions to rectify these issues.

Sunscreen /Targeted Creams

Inarguably the least expensive and easiest to use is broad spectrum sunscreen.  When we are driving, UV rays penetrate the glass causing damage to our hands and décolleté leading to pigmentation later on.  Extending your sunscreen application to these areas (which we should already be doing anyway) will help.

Certain creams can also help with the appearance if sun damage is minimal.  PCA Skin Perfecting Neck and Décolleté and Revison Skincare Nectifirm are examples of great products to look into.

Microdermabrasion/Chemical Peels

Exfoliation treatments such as microdermabrasion and chemical peels can provide improvements in the color, tone and texture of treated areas and typically don’t require much downtime.

Other Options

For skin that has extensive damage, a visit to a dermatologist or plastic surgeon would suit best where they could perform IPL treatments, lasers (Fraxel, Active FX or Thermage), Botox or surgery, depending on the results you are looking for.

Remember that prevention is always the best rule to adhere to and will save you time and money in the long run. 

 

What’s Aging You?

aging

69 year-old truck driver whose left side of the face was exposed to the sun for 28 years.

 

By at least our 30’s, if not sooner, many of us start reaching for products that can help delay the aging effect.  While aging is a natural part of life, if you’re seeing signs of premature wrinkles, take a look at this fact.  85% of skin aging is caused by how you live (i.e. sun exposure, pollution, unhealthy lifestyle). 

Aging can be classified into two types: intrinsic and extrinsic.  Intrinsic aging reflects genetic background and the passage of time; in other words, elements that are beyond our control.  Extrinsic aging (considered to be preventable) is brought about by environmental or external factors, including smoking, alcohol consumption, poor nutrition, and UV exposure.

Do you know which factor is responsible for expediting the aging process?

If you guessed the sun, you are correct (and have been reading my posts)!

By now you know the danger of excessive and unprotected UV exposure (skin cancer), but it also leads to photo-aging– a term used to describe the characteristic changes of  sun induced skin.

photo-age

Extrinsic, left; Intrinsic , right.

The image above depicts photo-aged skin (left) and chronological aged skin (right).  See the dramatic difference?

Let’s take a look at how structurally these two pictures differ.

Protected From UV Damage and Extrinsic Elements

When age is caused by intrinsic forces, the skin has a thinned, smooth, clear, almost transparent apperance.  There is also fine wrinkling, inelastic, saggy skin, increased dryness, slight flakiness, loss of underlying fat resulting in hollow cheeks and eye socket and a slowing of collagen and elastin production

Exposed To UV Damage and Other Extrinsic Elements 

Aging caused by this will culminate in a thickened epidermis resulting in rough, leathery skin, telangiectasia (dilated blood vessels), yellow, sallow coloration and age spots.  There is an increased risk of skin cancer and a degradation of collagen and elastin.

As you can see, how you will age is contingent on several factors, most of which are preventable.  Sunscreen is and will continue to be one of the most powerful products in your skin care arsenal.  The best news, it’s also the most cost effective!