Skin Pigmentation Types and Treatments

What Causes The Changes in Skin Pigmentation

Everyone wants to have flawless skin this applies especially to both men and women. You can follow a very consistent and regular skin care routine to keep your skin clear, supple as well as youthful. Regardless of whatever you do, you may still experience some changes in skin pigmentation.  A skin pigment change can throw off your skin's overall appearance since discolorations will cause your skin to look uneven due to excessive melanin production or not enough melanin production in one area or another on your skin.
What is Melanin? It's the substance found in your skin that's responsible for your skin color. People with light skin tend to have lower amounts of Melanin in their skin, since people with darker skin tend to have lots of Melanin in their skin. Regardless of what you do to your skin and whether your skin is light or dark, skin discolorations can be problem. Skin pigmentation occurs when your skin becomes discolored and this could be due to a variety of reasons such as medication, acne, scarring etc.
Melanin works to protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun and especially the aging and skin damaging effects of UV radiation. The more melanin produced by your skin, the darker your skin color will be ( this explains tanning ). When your skin produces excessive melanin, this usually results in hyperpigmentation and skin discoloration. Discussed below are the different types of skin discolorations:

Sun Spots
Whenever your skin is exposed to sunlight, it usually produces more melanin in order to offer a protective barrier from the skin damaging UV rays produced by the sun. Most people usually end up with a tan or a sunburn as a result of exposure to the sun. Repeat tanning and sunburns can lead to skin cancer and usually play a major role in the development of sun spots and other pigmentation later in life. The question remains, how do you treat skin pigment change and problems?
Keep in mind: It's always better to prevent than to treat!

How To Prevent Hyperpigmentation:
The number one thing you want to do is practice prevention. You need to use a sunscreen with a protection level of at least SPF 20+ ( If you have extra pale skin, you may need to increase to a higher SPF to get better protection). Even if you're just getting in your car to drive to work or run some errands, its cloudy outside etc. it's important to put on some sunscreen since repeated and unprotected exposure to the sun is what leads to skin problems later in life.
How to Treat Sun Spots:
You want to treat skin discolorations by using lotions, creams and serums that contain ingredients such as Kojic acid, Lactic acid, vitamin C and AHA. These products help in skin resurfacing and repair and if used regularly you will start to see your spots and discolorations fade. The amount of time it takes to fade and even eliminate hyperpigmentation depends on the severity of the discolorations themselves.

This is the patches that appear on your skin and can be found especially on the cheeks. Melasma tends to be brownish with  a tint of gray and is mainly the result of a hormonal imbalance. Women are the most vulnerable to this type of pigmentation during pregnancy or menopause since this is the time when hormonal imbalance is most likely. Birth control pills, cosmetics and certain types of medication can aldo cause melasma.

How To Treat Melasma:
Melasma usually goes away on its own, especially in the case of pregnancy induced melasma. If the melasma doesn't go away on its own, a cream or a serum that has glycolic acid can be used to further exfoliate the upper layer of the skin and help to fade the discoloration. Skin lightening serums and creams that contain ingredients such as kojic acid and retinol can also be used to lighten and fade the discoloration.

White Spots
White spots are a form of hypopigmentation meaning a lack of pigment and melanin. White spots can be the result of burns, laser treatments, blisters etc. A common example of hypopigmentation is vitiligo and albinism. Most of the people who are affected by this condition tend to be at a higher risk of melanoma and sun burns.

How To Treat White Spots:
Most people usually assume that hypopigmentation can not be treated, however you also have to remember that this particular skin condition usually gets worse the more you are exposed to the sun. With white spots, its best to consult a dermatologist since they will know what treatements to prescribe. Usually a dermatologist will treat white spots with topical steroid therapy or other surgical therapies.

A birthmark is a distinct yet harmless mark on the skin. You are either born with or without a birthmark, in some cases, other people develop a birthmark later on after birth. While some birthmarks may fade away overtime, most marks darken and even expand on the skin with age. In very rare cases a birth mark may turn cancerous or lead to other problems. This is why it's very important to have it looked at by your dermatologist.

How To Treat Birthmarks
This one is a controversial topic, however it's very important to also know that all birthmarks are different so its very difficult to apply a universal treatment to every birthmark. There is no medication available that helps to lighten birthmarks, however depending on severity, some birthmarks can be treated effectively and removed with plastic surgery or laser therapy. The success rate of permanently getting rid of birthmarks is low, this is why it's not recommended that a person resort to invasive surgery in trying to permanently remove a birthmark since surgery and laser treatments might worsen the marks or leave scarring.

The most important thing to remember is to avoid self diagnosing at all costs, especially more so with skin pigment change and other discolorations. Doing a self diagnose and using any product you find without doing the research can actually make matters worse.
If you decide to use a certain product intended to treat skin discolorations, make sure that you consult with a doctor or your dermatologist to find if there's any risks involved. Always make sure to stay properly hydrated and to always wear a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 if you're going outside, your skin will thank you later.
An example of post acne hyperpigmentation