Whether it’s dark marks or white spots, it’s not uncommon for skin to discolour. JOY DUFFIELD explains the reasons why the skin acts up
Pigmentation is a skin disorder that affects many people. It is not specific to any gender, colour, or age. It can occur due to various reasons and anywhere in the body. Hyperpigmentation, which appears darker than one’s natural skin, is due to the increasing melanin production in the skin. Hypopigmentation, which appears lighter than one’s natural skin colour, is due to the lack of pigment produced in the skin.
Chloasma is one of the most common pigmentation conditions and is generally found in woman due to hormonal imbalances or changes. For example, during pregnancy or while on a contraceptive pill. While the cause of the pigmentation is present, there is not much one can do to treat it. If it is due to pregnancy, it will often naturally clear up after childbirth.
The skin does not forgive or forget how it was treated when it was young! This becomes evident in the ageing process as the solar lentigines, commonly known as sunspots or liver spots, generally start becoming evident.
These appear mostly on the hands and face. Sometimes, they start with a small freckle, which becomes progressively larger. These become more difficult to manage and often require quite in-depth treatment such as laser. If they start to become rough or itchy, consult your doctor or a skin specialist.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is the result of injury or inflammation. A common cause of this is acne. Areas prone to excessive chronic dryness, psoriasis or eczema can lead to the skin becoming inflamed and eventually pigmented.
Areas of constant pressure due to being seated in a wheelchair or even constant friction can also lead to hyperpigmentation due to the skin being compromised for a period. Keeping those areas well-nourished with a non-petroleum-based products can help to prevent this.
These types of pigmentation can often be treated with professional lightning treatments and creams. Regular use of products with ingredients of vitamin A and beta as well as alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) assist with lightning pigmentation and improving the skin condition. Please note Hydraquinone should be avoided or used with utmost caution and only under medical supervision or it may exacerbate the problem.
Hypopigmentation is less common. The two most common conditions of Vitiligo, which shows up as an area devoid of pigment, are caused by the skin not producing melanin – the cells that determine the colour of our skin.
Tinea versicolor is evident with numerous white spots typically appear on the chest or back while sparing the face. It is a disease that characteristically affects young, healthy people. The spots don’t tan, so they appear more obvious in summer months. Tinea versicolor is caused by a superficial yeast infection of the skin and is treatable with antifungal products.
The sun and any inflamed, broken skin or new scar are not friends! Using the sun protection every day is recommended for any exposed skin. Any inflamed of compromise skin should be kept out of the sun as much as possible and use an SPF 50 with application every two hours if outdoors and even more often if swimming.