Melanin is a pigment that provides color to the skin. It’s not always distributed evenly; when melanin collects in patches, it can create spots or darker areas known as hyperpigmentation. Changes in skin tone can occur due to sun exposure, injury, medical conditions, or age. There are treatments to restore the appearance of healthy skin, but first, we’ll provide a look at common types of hyperpigmentation.
Freckles are usually small brown spots caused by sun exposure. They can occur anywhere, at any age, but are most common on the face, neck, chest, and hands. These are nothing to worry about unless asymmetry, irregular borders, or changes in color develop.
As their name suggests, these pigmentations are present at birth. They can be caused by clusters of pigmented cells or malformed blood vessels. Birthmarks may go away without treatment, stay the same, or change over time. They also may be present in different colors or contain different types of tissue.
Melasma is the darkening of skin tone due to hormonal changes, such as those associated with pregnancy. Patches of melasma are often gray-brown and occur on the cheeks, forehead, bridge of the nose, chin, and upper lip. This can also be a side-effect of taking birth control pills. Melasma may be worsened by sun exposure.
Patchy areas of redness that occur for no apparent reason, and which can flare up for weeks or months and go away. Common on the cheeks, chin, nose, or forehead, rosacea can be exacerbated by sunlight, temperature extremes, and an increase in blood flow to the skin. Rosacea can resemble blushing but more advanced stages are characterized by visible blood vessels, and an enlarged nose, chin, and oil glands.
Also known as age spots, liver spots, and solar lentigines, photoaging often results from years of prolonged sun exposure. Clusters of dark spots may appear in one’s late thirties or early forties. Sunlight affects the production of melanin, which results in uneven skin tone.
It is often associated with acne; once a pimple heals, a dark spot may be left behind. PIH can happen due to any trauma to the skin. Even if you get a scratch or an insect bite, melanocytes, or pigment cells, can create more pigment in response to the injury. Inflammatory conditions such as lupus and eczema can lead to PIH as well.
There are many types of treatments, depending on the condition, its severity, and the person’s preferences. These range from medications to chemical peels, to surgical procedures. Radiofrequency laser therapy has become a common treatment option as well. Requiring little recovery or downtime, it is available in several options. Skin discoloration can be improved with fractionated RF energy, while intense pulsed light, acoustical lasers, and 1064 nm lasers can also be very effective.
Intense pulsed light is especially useful at treating freckles, sun damage, and rosacea, as well as a host of pigmented or vascular lesions. Melasma and brown spots can be reduced with acoustic lasers. For pigmentation issues deep in the skin, a 1064 nm laser is effective without touching the skin surface.
Contact the Laser & Dermatology Institute of California for the latest in hyperpigmentation treatments. Providing skin treatment services throughout Southern California, we are located in Covina. Call us at 866-478-7837 to schedule a free consultation or use our online appointment self-scheduler today.