Understanding Pigmentation And The Best Treatment For Your Condition

Pigmentation or hyperpigmentation are skin conditions that many people have experienced in their lives. It includes any form of skin discolouration — brown spots, hormonal pigmentation, and freckles, for example.

So, that sweet little smattering of freckles across your nose or on your cheeks is actually pigmentation! It’s nothing to worry about, but some people are more prone to it than others and, as you get older, pigmentation increases.

If you have freckly skin, you might find that as you age, you get larger marks on your body — particularly on your hands, arms and legs. These are known as age spots, brown spots or solar spots. Some people prefer to have these spots removed. At Skin by Dr Caroline’s advanced skin clinic in Brookmans Park, we have the most advanced technology and experienced professionals to help with this concern. 

Why Does Pigmentation Happen?

Simply put, pigmentation is patches of skin that are darker than your natural skin colour. The reason it happens is because of melanin stimulation inside your body.

Pigmentation is more likely to happen when it’s hot or when your skin is exposed to the sun, but some people have more melanocytes in their body than others, which produce melanin. Pigmentation is something that can happen to any skin type but is often more prevalent on fair skin.

Hyperpigmentation is a more noticeable form of pigmentation. While it is completely harmless, hyperpigmentation creates patches of skin, rather than spots, that are darker than your skin colour. This occurs when there is an excess of melanin that forms a deposit on the skin.

Types Of Pigmentation

Before considering pigmentation treatment from our clinic near St Albans, It’s worth understanding what type of pigmentation your skin is displaying.

  • Freckles are those little brown dots which appear on your body and are known as lentigines in the medical world. They are harmless and multiply when skin is exposed to the sun, as this exposure encourages melanin production. Some people are more prone to freckled skin than others.
  • Age spots (also known as liver spots, brown spots and solar spots) appear as you age, and are larger and darker than freckles, while uneven in shape. Medically known as solar lentigines, age spots are harmless, but some people feel self-conscious about these patches, particularly if they appear on the face or arms. For age spot removal in Hatfield, Skin by Dr Caroline are the experts.
  • Melasma occurs because of hormonal changes during pregnancy or menopause. It appears as patchy areas and a general darkening in skin tone focused primarily on the face.
  • Hypopigmentation happens when the melanin content in the body is below the normal level. It occurs because of different reasons, such as injury to skin or burns, although the main reason is too much exposure to UV rays from the sun or a sunbed. Hypopigmentation takes the form of white blemishes on the skin, often on the arms, legs, back, chest and face, and often increase in size with age.

The Common Causes Of Skin Pigmentation

The sun is the biggest factor in pigmentation, and when you go on a sunny holiday or spend time outside in the baking heat, skin is exposed to high levels of ultraviolet (UV) rays.

UV rays cause inflammation and therefore encourage pigmentation. Those freckles are the result of sun damage, as are age spots, so always wear good-quality, high sun protection factor (SPF) sunscreen when you’re out in the sun. We recommend a minimum of factor 40. Pigmentation can start at any age, but it is often brought on when first exposed to the sun.

The sun is certainly not the only reason why pigmentation occurs, however, and some people are just more likely to produce high levels of melanin than others. Even factor 40 sunscreen won’t stop freckles forming in many cases — especially if they are hereditary, which freckles normally are. However, a good sunscreen, such as the Heliocare products stocked at Skin by Dr Caroline, will help prevent the condition.

Women over the age of 40 may well experience pigmentation as hormonal changes start to take place. Pigmentation is one of the symptoms of menopause and often also occurs in pregnancy. Sometimes, GPs prescribe hormone-based medication, and a side-effect can be skin discolouration. Other causes include skin injuries; even acne can cause pigmentation.

Dealing With Pigmentation

There are things you can do to slow down pigmentation, but if your skin is prone to it, then it’s difficult to stop it in its tracks without professional pigmentation removal treatment. In the meantime, here are a couple of tips to limit the symptoms:

  • Gently exfoliate your skin with an exfoliator containing a little salicylic acid. Exfoliation is recommended once or twice a week, depending on your skin type. This helps slow pigmentation down, especially the onset of age spots.
  • Use a high-quality anti-ageing cream with vitamin C and retinol, as both are both excellent in fighting sun damage. Skin by Dr Caroline can advise on this during a skin treatment consultation.
  • Always wear a minimum of factor 40 sunscreen on exposed areas, especially on your face. Put it on underneath your moisturiser every day — even when it’s cloudy!
  • Try to avoid being totally exposed to the sun between 11am and 4pm, and always wear a sunhat on those hotter days.
  • Stick to a healthy diet and make sure it is balanced and varied, full of nutrients and vitamins. Fill your shopping trolley with green vegetables, berries and citrus fruit. These all contain antioxidant properties that fight free radicals and break down the skin’s elasticity.

How To Banish Hyperpigmentation

Consulting a recommended team of experts, such as those at Skin by Dr Caroline’s advanced skin and aesthetics clinic in Hertfordshire, is the first step to removing pigmentation. Our highly trained skin therapists will analyse your skin type and the depth of the problem, before advising on a suitable course of treatment.

CryoPen is a treatment used by the Skin by Dr Caroline team, which works to remove most brown spots. CryoPen uses nitrous oxide to freeze the pigmented area for up to 30 seconds. The process carefully disrupts the skin’s membrane which starts the healing process. Slight itchiness after the treatment is common, but the treatment is not uncomfortable and produces fast results. CryoPen treatment is an excellent option for hyperpigmentation and is extremely accurate.

Another alternative is to have a course of chemical peels which contain lactic and salicylic acids, both of which are excellent for skin renewal. There is a period of downtime after a chemical peel as skin is aggravated during treatment, so it’s best to book this skin treatment in Hatfield when you have nothing important in your diary.

For further information on treating pigmentation symptoms such as brown spots, sun spots or ageing spots in our skin and aesthetics clinic near Potters Bar, please contact Skin by Dr Caroline to book a free consultation with one of our expert, friendly therapists. Call 01707 662477 today.

  1. There are various methods for removing age spots, including topical creams, laser therapy, cryotherapy, and chemical peels.

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