Hyperpigmentation covers a wide range of symptoms from sun/liver spots and freckles to larger areas of discolouration. Many forms of hyperpigmentation are caused by excess production of melanin. We will discuss the sun’s contribution specifically to hyperpigmentation although there can be medical causes as well.
Melanin is produced by the melanocyte cells located at the lower layer of the epidermis. During ageing the distribution of these cells are less diffuse and less regulated. UV light stimulates these cells causing excess production of melanin, which we see as areas of hyperpigmentation. Wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen (Jan Marini anti-oxidant daily face protectant) or Obagi sun shield SPF 50 will go a long way to minimising the appearance of hyperpigmentation and preventing new ones from occurring by reducing the amount of UVA and UVB rays absorbed.
An evenly coloured, pigment free complexion is a very important for maintaining a youthful look. There is an extensive range of products available to minimise and prevent further hyperpigmentation. The main focuses being on fading existing pigmentation and minimising the excess production of melanin.
Topical products such as Enlighten (Jan Marini Skin Care Management System) and brightening cream SPF 15 from NeoStrata help exfoliate and also lighten discolourations without using chemicals such as hydroquinone. For very severe hyperpigmentation and melasma, the Obagi NuDerm system can prove very useful.
Mild chemical peels will further support the topical products and minimise areas of pigmentation as well as peels such as AHA, glycolic peels (Jan Marini, Neostrata). It is important to note that skin should be appropriately pre conditioned prior to any peel procedure.
Over all the most important protection against hyper pigmentation is the use of sunscreens daily.