Hyperpigmentation is a common and usually harmless condition in which patches of skin become darker than the surrounding areas. Forms of hyperpigmentation include age spots, melasma, acne scars and even freckles. This skin darkening occurs when melanin, the substance that gives skin its colour, develops in pockets. Hyperpigmentation can occur to people of any race or age. There are several methods for reducing this irregular pigmentation.
Avoid the sun. Excessive sun exposure is the biggest culprit when it comes to skin discolouration. The sun encourages spots to develop and can darken ones you already have. Wear sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30, and stay indoors or in the shade during the sun's peak hours.
Purchase an over-the-counter bleaching cream. You can find them in your local chemist. The active ingredient, hydroquinone, is available over the counter at up to 2 per cent concentrations. It is sometimes found in conjunction with kojic acid in these creams.
Make an appointment with a dermatologist. Your doctor can thoroughly diagnose and treat your particular pigmentation issues. With a prescription, you can get creams containing up to 4 per cent hydroquinone. Some dermatologists may even prescribe retinoids like tretinoin or tazarotene in conjunction with bleaching creams. They can even skin tone and lighten dark spots.
Apply the bleaching cream daily. It may take several months before you start seeing effects, so be consistent in your applications. In time, your dark spots should fade.
Do not apply these creams to your entire body. The Food and Drug Administration proposed a ban on over-the-counter versions of hydroquinone in 2006, citing evidence that it may cause cancer.