Pigmentation – What is it and How to Treat It

Summer weather has finally arrived, but with the sun comes the risk of skin damage. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that the two go together and while the risk of sun damage to the skin can be quite serious, even if you’re careful you could still find yourself looking a little blotched and discoloured.

The same process that leads to a suntan can lead to what’s more properly called ‘hyperpigmentation’ – a small area of cells continuing to produce melanin out of proportion to your level of sun exposure, leaving with a red or brown patch on your skin.

Skin pigmentation can also be caused by minor skin damage, an allergic reaction or even some kinds of hair removal. What all of these causes have in common is inflammation: it’s what exposure to the sunlight causes, and it’s triggered by cuts and wounds, allergic reactions and plucking out a stubborn hair! It’s this inflammation that triggers what are called melanocytes – the cells that protect your skin with melanin. If they don’t stop work after the trigger goes away you’re left with patches of skin that are darkened compared to the natural hue of the skin around them. A similar effect can also be caused by simple and otherwise harmless genetic conditions.

As you can see, however much care you take, it’s all too easy to end up with pigmentation problems, so today we’re looking a few ways you can treat it, to avoid losing confidence with skin that looks less than its best.

Covering Up

The first thing to do is learn how to cover it up – important whether you’re simply keeping on as normal in the run up to a more permanent treatment, or have decided simply to forgo treatment altogether. Remember that hyperpigmentation is simply colouring, and isn’t dangerous so not having it treated is an option!

Concealer is your friend here: a solid cream concealer that’s a shade lighter than your natural skin colour applied over the affected area will even out to an invisible solution that means no one will suspect there’s a discolouration lurking there.

Laser Treatment

If you’re looking for a more permanent solution, you can opt for an IPL pigmentation treatment. This is a laser treatment – the IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light, and it’s also known as photorejuvenation or even a photofacial!

The laser light focuses on the affected areas of with, yes, laser-like precision! It penetrates below the surface of the skin and breaks down the build up of melanin, which then disperses, restoring your skin its natural shade!

It’s not a solution for everyone. The nature of the treatment means it’s only suitable for those who are naturally light skinned, and it can be quite uncomfortable, with the sensation of the laser pulses feeling a little like a light electric shock!

Fortunately, there’s no downtime to recover: just a little redness which can be easily covered up and fades naturally. The broken down melanin is either carried away by the body’s lymphatic system, or rises out as a small scab so either way you can get right back to work! 

Topical Treatments

If you’re worried about the discomfort or expense of laser treatment, topical creams to treat skin discolouration are beginning to become available!

Make sure only buy from a reputable store, and check the list of ingredients closely because some older creams are not only ineffective but contain mercury, which is very dangerous and illegal!

The reputable, modern creams focus on rejuvenating the skin, stimulating the body’s natural turnover of cells to process the discoloured spots away and leaving you looking younger!

As with all these treatments, if you’re confused or not sure if you’re suitable, talk to a specialist to help judge what’s right for you.