According to Dr. Muhsen Kalaji, a Dubai based dermatologist, pigmentation or hyperpigmentation is the darkening of an area of skin caused by increased melanin. “Hyperpigmentation can be diffuse or focal, deep or superficial, inherited or acquired,” he tells. “Melasma is the most common one, which is patchy hyperpigmentation– often found in pregnant women-and PIH (Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation) which is common in Arab and Asian skin types.” These are dark and discolored spots that appear on the skin following acne that has healed.
Most people get pigmentation on their cheeks, the bridge of their nose, forehead, chin, and above their upper lip, explains Dr. Kalaji. “It also can appear on other parts of the body that get lots of sun, such as the back of the hands, forearms and neck,” he notes, while thin skin areas like eyelids and neck, are the hardest to treat.
Many forms of hyperpigmentation are caused by an excess production of melanin, explains Dr. Kalaji. “Melanin is produced by melanocytes (pigmented cells) at the lower layer of the epidermis,” he says and is both hereditary and
acquired especially because of excess sun exposure.
Topical agents are still the safest and effective treatment for pigmentation, suggests Dr. Kalaji. “Good products like
hydroquinone and tretinoin can lighten the spots, also procedures such as chemical peels are very helpful in many cases,” he elaborates, while some machines like lasers and radio frequency can be applied carefully in resistant cases and specific areas
Tips to Help Prevent Pigmentation
- Wear sunscreen every day, even on cloudy days and after swimming or perspiring.
Choose a sunscreen that offers broadspectrumprotection–a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or more, and zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide to physically limit the effects of the sun’s rays on your skin.
- Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going outside and reapply at least every two hours.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat and big sunglasses when you’re outside. Whenever possible, avoid sun exposure during the peak hours between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., seek shade, and wear protective clothing in addition to applying sunscreen. Choose
- Whenever possible, avoid sun exposure during the peak hours between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., seek shade, and wear protective clothing in addition to applying sunscreen. Choose
- Choose high-quality skin care products under your dermatologist’s supervision, products that irritate or even burn the skin may worsen pigmentation.
- Avoid waxing areas of the body affected by pigmentation. Ask a skin specialist about other types of hair removal that may be right for you.
(Credit: Dr. Muhsen Kalaji)