If you suffer from uneven skin tone, which is also known as hyperpigmentation, this can cause you no end of frustration. Some people suffer from hyperpigmentation on the face, which they can go to great lengths to cover up. There are many reasons that can cause hyperpigmentation, amongst them sun exposure, inflammation, pregnancy, being on birth control pills, and many more. Because there are so many reasons hyperpigmentation can occur, how you would go about treating it can differ from individual to individual.
Pregnant women may choose to wait until they have given birth to treat hyperpigmentation and, in many cases, they find that the condition resolves itself shortly after childbirth. Others may choose to go for laser treatments or chemical peels. Applying topical creams is also an effective and non-invasive method of treatment. In this article, we share with you what you need to know about treating hyperpigmentation by skin tone.
Understanding the Science Behind Hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation is caused by the overproduction of melanin in the skin. This causes patches of skin to appear darker than your natural skin tone. While these patches are harmless most of the time, they can cause a drop in confidence levels and self-esteem, having a detrimental effect on mental health. In serious cases, this can affect the quality of life of an individual, and they may feel embarrassed to wear clothes that reveal their hyperpigmentation patches. While anyone of any skin tone can develop hyperpigmentation, darker-skinned individuals are more susceptible to it.
Getting Rid of Hyperpigmentation
There are a few ways individuals with hyperpigmentation have turned to to lighten darker patches of skin. Below is a list:
- Skin lightening creams: Lightening creams can be purchased at drugstores without a prescription. However, it pays to be careful when selecting one, as these creams can contain harsh ingredients that end up drying out your skin. One good rule to follow is to choose a cream with moisturizing ingredients.
- Prescription topicals: If your hyperpigmentation has been bothering you for some time or it remains immune to over-the-counter creams, you may choose to approach your dermatologist for a prescription topical. This is very often hydroquinone. When first using a prescription topical, you may want to patch test it and avoid applying it too liberally.
- Dermatological procedures: Individuals who wish to get rid of hyperpigmentation quickly and effectively may opt for procedures that include chemical peels and laser treatments. Although these procedures provide quick results, they may not necessarily be long-lasting. In short, the top layer of skin is removed during such treatments to reveal an unblemished layer of skin underneath. However, the underlying cause of your hyperpigmentation has not been eliminated. Therefore, you can expect it to recur after some time if you have not targeted the root cause.
Different individuals may find that different methods of treatment work better for them. Regardless of which you choose, it is important to avoid scratching and aggravating the affected areas.
Now that you have an understanding of how hyperpigmentation is typically treated, let’s take a closer look at how individuals of various skin tones can address the problem more specifically.
Understanding Hyperpigmentation in Light Skin Tones
Individuals with light skin tones may find that their hyperpigmentation patches show up more obviously. This can result in excessive use of foundation and other methods of covering up. Pale tones make you more susceptible to hyperpigmentation caused by sun exposure, which can show up as red or brown marks on your skin. Uneven patches caused by reddening of the skin in some areas are not uncommon as well.
There is one particular thing that light-skinned individuals should take note of when it comes to using lightening creams. The typical lightening cream you can purchase over the counter is not catered to any specific skin tone. Hence, you may end up making your face lighter than the rest of your body if you apply too much. As these creams are meant to be used by lighter- and darker-skinned individuals alike, what may resolve the problem for a darker-skinned individual may end up tipping the balance of your skin tone the other way!
Treating hyperpigmentation in light skin tones is largely about prevention when it comes to sun exposure. Always ensure you apply sunscreen, wear long sleeves and pants if possible, and avoid staying out for too long in the sun. If hyperpigmentation has already occurred, it’s all the more important to protect affected areas from sun exposure as this can worsen the appearance of your dark patches.
Understanding Hyperpigmentation in Medium and Olive Skin Tones
In individuals with medium-colored skin tones, hyperpigmentation tends to show up as irregular brown patches rather than red marks. That’s not to say that it’s impossible for you to develop red patches, however, their appearance will be less obvious than in lighter-skinned individuals.
Individuals with olive-colored skin can relax knowing that they are more likely to tan than burn in the sun. However, it’s not all good news. Because your skin bronzes easily, you are more vulnerable to skin discoloration. As a general rule, the higher the number of melanocytes you have, the more susceptible you are to hyperpigmentation. Melanocytes are the cells that control pigment in the skin and when you tan, these cells are activated, which can lead to hyperpigmentation.
When treating hyperpigmentation in individuals with medium and olive skin tones, one important thing to keep in mind is that it takes time. That is unless you go for more invasive procedures such as chemical peels or laser treatment. When choosing a lightening cream, always look out for products that include steroids and avoid them as much as possible. Some ingredients to look out for include Vitamin C, kojic acid, and hyaluronic acid – you may wish to consider purchasing creams with these ingredients due to their moisturizing properties.
Understanding Hyperpigmentation in Dark Skin Tones
If you are darker-skinned, chances are, you never have to worry about burning in the sun. As a result, you do not have to worry too much about hyperpigmentation caused by sun exposure. Lucky you! On the flip side, that doesn’t mean you can forget about sun protection altogether. Having darker skin makes you more prone to hyperpigmentation caused by other factors that include melasma and acne. As such, you should always protect your skin when out in the sun to prevent any hyperpigmentation from getting worse and more difficult to treat.
When treating hyperpigmentation for dark skin, the best approach is to isolate the cause and any triggers you may have. As sun exposure is not typically a big factor, you may want to take a look at any medications you are taking and consider the triggers that cause your skin to inflame, such as rashes and bites. Removing the root cause will often allow hyperpigmentation to resolve by itself, however, this can take months or even years, and you may not have the luxury of time. To speed up the process, you may want to consider using a lightening cream you can purchase over the counter or approach your dermatologist for a prescription topical.