Before we head on to the main discussion, let's understand Hyperpigmentation, its causes and types.
Pigmentation generally refers to colouring, darkening of the skin is termed hyperpigmentation. Excess production of melanin causes Hyperpigmentation.Melanin is skin pigment produced by melanocytes ( melanin-producing cells ) whose primary function is to protect the skin from harmful U.V radiation.
The causes of Hyperpigmentation are as follows :
- Prolonged Sun exposure: The primary cause of Hyperpigmentation includes Exposure to U.V Radiations.
The depletion of the protective ozone layer enabled increased penetration of U.V rays to the earth's surface
The more exposure to the sun, the more melanin is produced, leaving pigmented blemishes on your skin.
The pigment melanin is a part of the skin defence barrier. It absorbs & neutralizes the Harmful U.V. rays. However, excess of it can result in brown-black spots on the face.
- Hormonal issues: Hormones such as estrogen & progesterone can stimulate the production of excess melanin, resulting in brown-black spots on the face ( commonly forehead, cheeks, chin & nose). The condition is also known as melasma & is often seen in females during pregnancy.
- Aging skin: As the ageing progresses, the skin shows visible signs such as fragility & dryness. Along with these, Hyperpigmentation also becomes more apparent. Although the production of melanocytes has stopped, the already existing ones tend to become denser and more spread out.
- PIH-Inflammation of skin such as acne can result in conditions such as Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation. Exposure to sunlight during or post healing can leave stubborn brown-black marks on your skin.
- Medications: Hyperpigmentation can also be a result of certain medications such as antimalarial or chemotherapeutic drugs.
After having known the probable causes of Hyperpigmentation, let us acknowledge ourselves about its types to devise an appropriate treatment.
PIH & PIE are two major types of Hyperpigmentation.
PIH ( Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation ): PIH occurs when melanin production is increased post inflammation to the skin such as dermatitis or thermal burn. It affects dark skin types.
PIE ( Post Inflammatory erythema ) PIE is hyperpigmentation followed by inflammation such as acne and It affects lighter skin types.
Hyperpigmentation is difficult to cure in one go, However, maintaining consistency and opting for correct treatment can help fade spots and brighten skin. Exfoliation is one of the treatments to combat Hyperpigmentation. They can be of two types, Physical exfoliators and Chemical exfoliators. Physical exfoliators slough off dead skin manually example Walnut shell pieces. However, Physical exfoliators are not suitable for the treatment of Hyperpigmentation as they can cause PIH ( Postinflammatory Hyperpigmentation ) due to skin inflammation.
On the Other hand, Chemical exfoliators act gently by loosening the bond between dead pigmented cells and sloughing them off without irritating the skin
Below are some of the exfoliators best suited for Hyperpigmentation AHA’S and BHA’S
Alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids are well-known exfoliators in the skincare market.
AHA include exfoliators such as lactic acid, Mandelic acid & glycolic acid
Whereas, BHA’s Include exfoliators such as Salicyclic acid
- Glycolic acid: This AHA is derived from sugarcane and is the most potent one. It has the lowest molecular weight, enabling easy penetration within the skin at a faster rate. However, Exposure to such a strong exfoliant without building tolerance can lead to irritation of the skin ( burns sometimes). And for a sensitive skin type, Glycolic acid is a big no-no!
- Lactic acid, on the other hand, has a gentler effect on the skin. Derived from sour milk, this AHA targets pigmentation without irritating the skin.
5% lactic acid serum by Suganda would be a good starting point for beginners. After being
well-acquainted with exfoliation, go for higher concentrations such as 10 % lactic acid
- Mandelic acid is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid(AHA) derived from bitter Almonds. It is a gentle exfoliator. Unlike other AHAs like lactic acid & Glycolic acid, It has a larger molecular size, due to which its penetration is slower. Thus, It acts gently on the skin without causing irritation & helps in the treatment of Hyperpigmentation.
Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid. It disrupts intercellular bonds and exfoliates the skin. It also prevents acne & is anti-inflammatory.
Try this :
A combination of Mandelic acid with Salicyclic acid as in 5 %Mandelic acid serum by Suganda can help treat Hyperpigmented skin effectively and is ideal for sensitive skin types.