Skin pigmentation causes vary, the main one being UV exposure. Skin pigmentation caused by the sun is not cancerous and appears on the areas of skin that is more exposed to the sun, in particular on cheeks, forehead and back of the hands.
What Causes Skin Pigmentation?
Most of us will struggle with some kind of skin pigmentation problem regardless of your ethnicity or skin color. The skin will either appear lighter of darker than normal in certain areas. The amount of Melanin (the skin’s natural ‘Sun Block’) present in your skin will determine your skin color. People with a darker skin or more Melanin are less susceptible to sunburn. Skin pigmentation can be treated, but your skin’s first major defense is using sun screen protection with a SPF level of at least 15. There are also a huge range of skin whitener and skin lightening treatments available.
What is Skin Pigmentation?
Skin Pigmentation is also known as Hyper pigmentation, and this condition causes the skin to be discolored as a result of local skin pigment or melanin production. Melanin levels depend on the amount of sun we are exposed to and also ethnicity. Continued sun exposure and also aging can lead the skin to lose the ability to restrict the production of melanin, which in turn results in long term hyper pigmentation marks. During pregnancy the control of pigment production can diminish and this can also lead to hyper pigmentation resulting in darker skin spots, liver and sun spots, local damage from acne scars or burns. The amount of skin pigmentation varies from person to person, with some people being affected over their entire body, and others just having patches of skin affected.
Types of Pigmentation and Treatments
Many people want to know about pigmentation problems and how to protect skin during the summer months. Pigmentation problems usually worsen over the Spring and Summer months, when Ultra Violet Rays (UVR) trigger the melanocytes and cause a darkening of the skin. Some forms of passive pigmentation can be a result of pregnancy (Chloasma) or medication such as the Birth Control Pill (Melasma). Inflammatory pigmentation is common and can often be a result of some injury or trauma to the skin. The Fitzpatrick Scale is essential when considering pigmentation issues and a useful tool when considering treatment options.
Examples of the Fitzpatrick Scale: Fitz 1 Redhead with pale skin, blue eyes and freckles Fitz 6 Dark hair and eyes, with black skin
Fitzpatrick Skin Types 4, 5 and 6 are particularly prone to inflammatory pigmentation associated with post acne scarring. Different treatment plans are needed for different Fitzpatrick Skin Types to gain optimum results , and a thorough assessment of your skin is essential.
Pigmentation worsens when UVR triggers the pigment producing cells (melanocytes). One of the only ways to successfully prevent this, is to wear a broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen. An SPF of around 15 to 30 (with full spectrum UVA/UVB protection) for most of the year, and increase this to a Total Sunblock, during the summer months. Whatever your Skin Type and treatment plan followed, it will always be absolutely essential to wear a sunscreen. It is important to remember to reapply regularly through the day especially when it’s hot and sweaty or you're in a situation where the cream may rub off, e.g in a swimming pool or playing sport. There are many ways pigmentation can be treated and lots of things that can be done to improve the condition of the skin, restoring a nice even skin tone. For those who are serious about improving pigmentation issues, the first step is definitely to invest in a good quality sunscreen and introduce it into your daily skin care routine as a matter of urgency.