Pigmentation means colouring. Skin pigmentation disorders affect the colour of your skin. Your skin gets its colour from a pigment called melanin. Special cells in the skin make melanin. When these cells become damaged or unhealthy, it affects melanin production. Some pigmentation disorders affect just patches of skin. Others affect your entire body.
If your body makes too much melanin, your skin gets darker. Pregnancy, Addison’s disease, and sun exposure can all make your skin darker. If your body makes too little melanin, your skin gets lighter. Vitiligo is a condition that causes patches of light skin. Albinism is a genetic condition affecting a person’s skin. A person with albinism may have no colour, lighter than normal skin colour, or patchy missing skin colour.
An uneven skin tone, or hyperpigmentation, is the result of an over production of melanin. Melanin is what gives skin and hair its colour, it helps protect skin against damaging UV light and absorbs heat from the sun. However, an overproduction of melanin stimulated by excessive sun exposure, hormones, or scarring, leads to a mottled, uneven skin tone.
There are many potential causes of discoloured skin patches, ranging from minor problems to more serious medical conditions:
There are three main types of hyperpigmentation, each of which is categorized by their cause.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH):
This occurs following skin injury from acne lesions, psoriasis, burns, friction and even certain professional skin care treatments. It begins to fade as the skin regenerates itself—a process that can take months or more. On the positive side, PIH generally responds well to treatment.
These are commonly known as liver spots or age spots. Although they do become more prevalent with age—they are found on 90% of light-skinned individuals over the age of 60, they are not directly caused by the aging process. Rather, lentigines are related to UV exposure.
This is caused by hormonal fluctuations, common, for example, during pregnancy, with thyroid dysfunction, and through use of birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy.
This is a darkening of skin that’s the result of scarring, which can be caused by acne lesions or skin injury.
When a hyperpigmented area is exposed to UV light, more melanin production is triggered on a cellular level, causing further darkening. Ironically, this production of melanin is just your skin trying to protect itself from damaging UV light.
Daily application of SPF will help shield skin from UV light to control melanin production on a cellular level. It can even help lessen the appearance of hyperpigmentation triggered by hormone fluctuations (such as melasma) or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (scarring)
When skin is repeatedly exposed to UV light, sun damage occurs. Brown spots appear as a result of too much melanin being produced to help protect skin from UV light. Lentigines are related to UV exposure.
Melasma is hormone-related hyperpigmentation caused by increased hormone stimulation. It is most commonly experienced by women who are pregnant (which is why it’s also known as the “mask of pregnancy”) or taking contraceptives, but can also be a reaction to cosmetics or medications.
Melasma is hormone-related Hyperpigmentation caused by increased hormone stimulation. It is most commonly experienced by women who are pregnant (which is why it’s also known as the “mask of pregnancy”) or taking contraceptives, but can also be caused by cosmetics or medications.
The most common pattern of melasma is centrofacial: on the chin, upper lip, cheeks, nose, and forehead. But it can also show up to a lesser extent on the cheeks, nose, and jaw line.
Studies suggest up to 75% of women may develop melasma during pregnancy and about 33% of women on oral contraceptives show symptoms as well. However, once hormonal fluctuations subside, such as the end of pregnancy or the discontinuing of oral contraceptives, the hyperpigmentation often disappears.
It’s important you speak with a skin care professional, especially if you’re pregnant, before beginning treatment for Hyperpigmentation.
Our two locations, Orchard Skin Clinic in Cambridgeshire and The Chelmsford Private Day Surgery Hospital, both benefit from being located within quiet, calm and tranquil environments.
At Orchard Skin Clinic we offer a variety of skin rejuvenation and corrective treatments to address many different skin conditions.
Our technologically advanced Laser equipment enables us to successfully treat men and women of all age groups and skin types who would like to improve or enhance their skin health, with very little or no downtime.
85-89 New London Road,
T: 01245 253760
47 Aldreth Road,
T: 01353 741730