Fighting pigmentation

Written by Kirsty Chenery

One the most commonly asked questions I receive in clinic is: “How can I treat my pigmentation or dark spots?”.

There are many different creams and treatments on the market today but the biggest difference that comes with treating pigmentation is understanding the type of pigment you are working with and treating it accordingly.

IPL and Laser can both have positive outcomes on treating certain types of pigmentation, but incorrect diagnoses can in some cases make the pigmentation worse. So, what are the different types and how are they formed in the skin?

Hyperpigmentation is the broader term that refers to all pigmentation or those patches of darkened skin. It is caused by too much sun exposure (sun baking) which is basically a trauma to the skin. Burns, inflammation and picking of pimples can also cause hyperpigmentation of the skin.

Hyperpigmentation can have many different causes, but the effects are all the same. Overactive Melanocytes. Melanocytes are the cells that are responsible for creating pigment and act as a protective measure for you skin.

Melasma is also known as hormonal pigmentation as it is formed when Melanocytes are stimulated by hormonal changes in the body. Also known as the pregnancy mask because of its prevalence in pregnant women. It can affect 10 to 15% of women during pregnancy and up to 25% of women who are taking the contraceptive pill. On the skin Melasma looks like dark patches of discolouration.

These usually appear symmetrically with matching marks on both sides of the face. The cheeks, forehead, upper lip and chin are common areas where Melasma forms. Melasma can fade after pregnancy or when contraceptives are discontinued but for others it becomes constant and reoccurring.

Treating pigmentation and Melasma can be done with pigment inhibiting serums, the correct laser treatments, Cosmelan peels and the prevention of pigment forming in the future.

A pigment inhibiting serum should contain tyrosinase inhibitors. Tyrosinase is the enzyme responsible for pigment synthesis in the skin.

Vitamin C is also a very effective way to even out your skin tone and works well at controlling free radical damage in the skin.

The Cosmelan peel, I have found, to be very effective in treating Melasma and with continued home care use can keep Melasma well under control.

If you are interested in treating your pigmentation and talking to a qualified Dermal therapist about options of treatment, please visit us in the spa for a free consultation.

You don’t have to live with pigmentation but always remember prevention is the best cure! Wearing a quality sunscreen, using pigment inhibiting serums and safe sun habits can prevent pigmentation from occurring in the first place. If you are concerned about dark spots always have them checked first with a skin cancer check.