Hyperpigmentation is the discoloration of the skin, resulting in the development of dark patches or spots. The affected area appears darker than the rest of the skin. This gets worse with sun exposure. Hyperpigmentation is a broad term. Skin discoloration can be caused by acne blemishes, freckles, sunspots.
All these skin issues boost the production of melanin in your skin. The excessive melanin gets dumped into the deeper levels of your skin, causing hyperpigmentation. These spots, when further exposed to sunlight, flare up and worsen.
Iron and vitamin B12 deficiency can also lead to overall darkening of complexion and sub-optimal skin quality.
Sun exposure can increase melanin production. Greater exposure to the sun increases the risk of developing hyperpigmentation.
Certain medications can cause hyperpigmentation. Also, some chemotherapy drugs can cause hyperpigmentation as a side effect.
HYPERPIGMENTATION AND HORMONES
Hormonal influences are the main cause of a particular kind of hyperpigmentation known as melasma or chloasma. It’s particularly common among women and is thought to occur when the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone stimulate the overproduction of melanin when skin is exposed to the sun. Pregnancy also can changes hormone levels and can affect melanin production in some women. Endocrine diseases, like Addison’s disease, disrupt hormone levels and can increase melanin production. Hyperpigmentation can also be a side effect of certain hormone treatments.
Hyperpigmentation and age
As skin ages, the number of melanin-producing cells (known as melanocytes) decreases but the remaining ones increase in size and their distribution becomes more focused. These physiological changes explain the increase of age spots in those over 40.
Hyperpigmentation, skin injuries and inflammation
As its name suggests, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation occurs following skin injury or inflammation such as: cuts, burns, chemical exposure, acne, Atopic Dermatitis or Psoriasis. Skin is left darkened and discoloured after the wound has healed.
PREVENTION – It’s not always possible to prevent hyperpigmentation. However, using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 can help, as can wearing hats or clothing that block sunlight and avoiding the sun during the hottest times of the day. Avoiding certain medications may also prevent hyperpigmentation.
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