Hyperpigmentation isn’t a disease or condition on its own. Rather, it’s a term that describes your skin if it appears discolored or darker than the rest of your natural skin tone. It can develop as a result of an underlying condition. Hyperpigmentation can appear in small patches, large patches, or it can even affect your entire body.
From her practice in Westlake Village, California, board-certified dermatologist Daphne Panagotacos, MD, offers IPL photofacials to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation.
In the meantime, let’s learn more about the potential causes of hyperpigmentation and what you can do if you spot lesions that are darker than your natural skin tone.
Causes of hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation happens when your skin produces excess melanin 一 the pigment produced by your melanocyte cells that gives your skin its unique color.
There are many conditions and factors that can cause your body to produce excess melanin including:
- Certain medications, including citalopram, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antimalarials, and nicotine
- Pregnancy and hormone conditions, both of which can cause melasma (gray-brown patches that form on the cheeks, nose, forehead, and nose)
- Sunspots caused by excess ultraviolet (UV) exposure
- Inflammation from acne that leads to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
- Underlying endocrine conditions, such as Addison’s disease
Because UV exposure can exacerbate hyperpigmentation, it’s important to protect your skin from the sun. Wear a physical blocking sunscreen 一 a type of sunscreen that uses zinc oxide as the main active ingredient. Use at least SPF 30-50, and wear it daily on exposed skin regardless of the season. You may also consider wearing clothing with SPF-infused fabric.
How does IPL help treat hyperpigmentation?
Even if you take action to protect your skin from excessive sun exposure, you still may experience hyperpigmentation. That’s because some conditions, such as hormone fluctuations, are out of your control.
Hyperpigmentation doesn’t hurt, and it doesn’t affect your physical health, but it can impact your self-esteem, especially if the discolored patches are on your face.
The good news is there are options to help restore even skin tone. Intense pulsed light (IPL) is a form of light that dermatologists often use to treat lesions and spots. While laser treatments rely on one concentrated light wavelength, IPL treatments rely on scattered light with many different wavelengths to accomplish many goals, including treating hyperpigmentation.
Here at Daphne Panagotacos, M.D., Inc., our team uses the Palomar Icon™ system by Cynosure®. It reduces hyperpigmentation by directing flashes of light energy toward any region of discolored skin, and the light helps break apart and scatter these heavily pigmented cells. Your lymphatic system is then able to flush out the small particles.
To learn more about IPL treatments for hyperpigmentation, give us a call today to schedule an appointment.