PATCH WORK

– the causes of pig­men­ta­tion and how to tackle it

Simply You Living - - Contents -

When we think of the way our skin ages, fine lines, wrin­kles and sag­ging are usu­ally front of mind, but brown spots and un­even skin­tone are also a fac­tor. While a smat­ter­ing of freck­les is of­ten deemed ‘cute’ in our youth, larger ar­eas of pig­men­ta­tion – those un­even patches of brown skin on the face, dé­col­letage and hands – are much more both­er­some as we age and can add years to our ap­pear­ance.

If we could turn back time, I’m sure we’d all slather on the sun­screen to pro­tect our del­i­cate young skin from the sun’s harm­ful ul­tra­vi­o­let rays. But it might in­ter­est you to know that the sun isn’t the only cul­prit when it comes to skin dis­coloura­tion, known as hy­per­pig­men­ta­tion.

In fact, there are nu­mer­ous fac­tors at play, in­clud­ing hor­monal im­bal­ances, acne, chem­i­cal re­ac­tions and even eczema.

The good news, ac­cord­ing to Dr Ge­of­frey

He­ber, founder of Ul­traceu­ti­cals skin­care, is that hy­per­pig­men­ta­tion can be treated. Here, we delve into three of the main causes of this patchy prob­lem and iden­tify the whiten­ing and bright­en­ing prod­ucts that can help tackle it.

Post-in­flam­ma­tory hy­per­pig­men­ta­tion

This type of pig­men­ta­tion typ­i­cally arises in re­sponse to in­flam­ma­tion or trauma to the skin and can af­fect both the face and body. “This can be any­thing from acne scar­ring, post-IPL [if you went into the sun af­ter treat­ment], burn-on-burn, a chem­i­cal re­ac­tion or eczema,” says About Face founder Mar­i­anna Glu­cina.

Flat spots of dis­coloura­tion, known as mac­ules, can range from pink and red to brown, de­pend­ing on skin­tone and the depth of the pig­men­ta­tion. They can look like small, dis­coloured freck­les or larger patches of darker skin and may be shiny or look like ‘new’ skin.

“The dis­coloura­tion is down to the skin’s melanocytes [pig­ment­pro­duc­ing cells] go­ing into over­pro­duc­tion when try­ing to heal a trauma,” says Glu­cina. Luck­ily this can be treated suc­cess­fully. “Our gold stan­dard for post-in­flam­ma­tory hy­per­pig­men­ta­tion re­duc­tion would be laser treat­ments such as Fraxel or Clear + Bril­liant,” she says. “We also use Om­nilux Light Ther­apy if the pig­ment is re­cent and if there is a need to re­duce in­flam­ma­tion,” she says.

As with all treat­ments, good at-home af­ter­care is re­quired to achieve the best re­sults and Glu­cina rec­om­mends us­ing skin­care con­tain­ing ty­rosi­nase in­hibitors and high-strength vi­ta­min A, C and E. “Over time, pig­ment will be re­duced as long as you’re also us­ing proper sun pro­tec­tion with a broad-spec­trum SPF 30+,” she says.

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